Utah head coach Rich Manning
Aug. 10, 2007
SALT LAKE CITY - University of Utah head women's soccer coach Rich Manning will welcome 22 student-athletes back to his squad Sunday afternoon. After meetings on Sunday, the Utes will begin preparations for their 2007 season with their first training session Monday.
"With school starting earlier this year, we've got a shorter time period to get rolling," Manning said. "We only have five or six days with no class this year, compared to two weeks in the past. We'll try to get as much done as possible in that first week to prepare for what we hope will be a very successful season."
The Utes return just four starters from last season's Mountain West Conference championship team. However, those starters bring a solid nucleus to build around as the team looks for its sixth consecutive NCAA Tournament berth. Last year's MWC Offensive Player of the Year - junior Adele Letro - returns, along with Kelly Isleib, who was the MWC Co-Freshman of the Year.
Kiley Jones, a second-team all-conference pick, and four-year starter Melissa Crespo round out the returning starters. The Ute squad will feature seven new starters, including the goalkeeper position and all four defenders. There are a total of six newcomers on the 22-player roster.
"I think the 2007 season will bring a lot of freshness to our team," Manning said. "We have a lot of new faces and a lot of returning people who will need to embrace new, larger roles. I'm anxious to get going, sort everything out and get cranking. The preseason is going to be important to get this team to the place we think it can be by the middle and end of the season."
Utah is coming off a 16-5-1 mark in the 2006 season - one that saw Manning earn his third MWC Coach of the Year honor in five years. The Utes were 7-0-0 in Mountain West Conference play last season, winning the league championship. The squad advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth consecutive season, advancing to the second round.
In addition to opening practice the week of August 12, the Utah women's soccer team will be making a pair of appearances in conjunction with Real Salt Lake. The Utes will be a part of the Real Salt Lake Coaches Show on 700 The Zone Tuesday night from 6-7 p.m. at Jerry Seiner Chevrolet (1530 South 500 West). The team will also play an exhibition match with Weber State at Rice-Eccles Stadium Saturday, prior to the RSL-Chicago Fire contest. Tentative kickoff for the Ute-Wildcat clash is 4:15 p.m. Admission to the RSL match will get fans in to see the Utah-Weber State contest. Student tickets for that game are just $12.