Shauna Gurr-Bingham, a first team all-Mountain West selection last season, is one of nine returning starters.
Aug. 16, 2002
SALT LAKE CITY - Utah was voted to place second in the Mountain West Conference soccer preseason poll released today. BYU, which has won the all three previous MWC titles, was picked as the favorite by the league's coaches.
The Cougars collected 36 points an six first-place votes to capture the top position in the poll. Utah, which received the other first-place vote and 28 points, was picked second in the ballot, followed by UNLV (22), San Diego State (21) and New Mexico (20). Air Force (14) and Wyoming (6) rounded out the voting as they were picked to finish sixth and seventh, respectively.
The Utes return 17 letterwinners from last year's team, which finished 11-7-0 overall and 3-3 in MWC play to tie for third. Rich Manning, who has been an assistant and associate head coach at Santa Clara for the past four years, is preparing his first Utah team upcoming season.
"It's no surprise that BYU is the clear favorite to win the conference. They've been the team to beat for several years, and we're all aiming at them," said Manning. "We hope that with all of the returning players and experience that we have, we'll be able to have a good conference season. Having a new coach and everything, we have a long way to go to get everyone on the same page. But the girls have been working very hard, and we expect that by the time the conference season comes around we'll be ready to go."
Utah opens the 2002 season at Ute Field against Portland on Sept. 1 at 1:00 p.m.