A New Focus For Utah's Dalley
By Christian Prieto
Teenage girls gather on a Salt Lake City soccer field for practice. Cleats are double-knotted. Shin guards secured. The Firebirds are ready to roll out and run rampant on the grass.
These girls don't know if soccer will always be a part of their lives. But for coach Erin Dalley, soccer was her path to success from the first time she stepped onto the field as a four-year-old in Centerville, UT.
Dalley, 23, finished as the leading scorer for the University of Utah women's soccer team this season with seven goals. She was named Pac-12 Player of the Week twice this season. Being that this was her first and last year in the Conference —Utah is a newcomer to the conference along with Colorado — she certainly left her mark against the top teams in her league.
"It definitely feels great to be awarded by a conference like the Pac-12," said Dalley. "It's an amazing experience. You know every week you're playing some of the best teams in the country. I love it. What more can you ask for?"
Kicking a soccer ball wasn't as easy as when the time came to decide between her final choices for college, Utah and BYU. Many of her family members are alums of the famed Brigham Young University.
Choosing Utah has left her with no regrets as she reminisces on her career as a Ute.
During her time in the Mountain West Conference, Dalley started 20 games as a freshman scoring her first goal in a 2-0 win against future Pac-12 opponent Oregon. After redshirting her sophomore year due to a knee injury, Dalley came back to win first-team All-MWC honors as she lead her team in scoring with nine goals.
Her scoring prowess followed her junior year when she finished second on her team in scoring.
When Erin wasn't scoring on the field for the Utes, she set the standard for student-athletes. She received three Academic All-MWC awards and was named to the Athletic Director's Honor Roll in 2010.
When the time came to start a new season in a new league, Erin made sure the prediction of the Utes finishing 11th out of 12 teams was a mistake.
She contributed in Utah's first win in Pac-12 play in a shutout against Oregon where she assisted her teammate Leslie Muirhead in securing the 2-0 victory. Dalley opened up the score sheet for her Pac-12 career in a game against Arizona State. Victories against Arizona, Oregon State, USC, and Colorado followed.
Dalley was awarded second-team All-Conference in the Pac-12 for the 2011 season.
The Utes finished league play with a 6-5 record.
"We're happy with our finish," said Dalley. "We knew we were going to be the underdog the entire season."
As the season came to an end, Dalley has emphasized her attention to the field where coaches stand and guide their team. She's translating the experience as a player to coaching, a career she plans to continue volunteering for.
She credits many people who she has played for throughout the years including Ute's head coach Rich Manning. According to Dalley, Manning "has brought out the best in me."
But with the opportunities she's learned from with Manning and other coaches before him, Dalley now applies that guidance to her teenage girls' soccer team where she hopes to be a role model her girls can confide in.
"I've had some great coaches in my career and people who have affected me for the rest of my life," said Dalley. "I want to influence them that way."