Utah Soccer Entertains Colorado in Saturday Matinee
SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah soccer team remains at home this weekend as it welcomes in Colorado for an early matinee match this Saturday, March 20, at 11:30 a.m. (MT) on Pac-12 Networks. Krista Blunk will have the call in the first of two matches between the Utes and Buffs with this Saturday tabbed as a non-conference match-up.
When Utah and Colorado step foot onto the pitch, it'll be the first time in six matches where the Utes won't be facing a ranked team since Feb. 26. However, that doesn't mean the Utes won't face a formidable foe in Colorado thanks to a loaded Pac-12 Conference.
SCOUTING THE BUFFS
Colorado heads into the match on Saturday 5-3-1 overall and 2-2-1 in league play. However, the Buffs are just 1-2-1 on the road this season. CU had a similar weekend to the Utes last week, splitting against the LA schools with the win coming against then #14 USC. Colorado dropped its weekend opener against #3 UCLA 1-0 before taking the Trojans to the brink with a 3-2 victory in double overtime match.
Hannah Sharts is the team leader with four goals while Shyra James is right behind her with three goals to her name. Shanade Hopcroft is the other Buff with multiple scores while Libby Geraghty and Jesse Loren each have a goal to their name. Lawson Willis is sixth in the country in assist, connecting with her teammates in six of the nine goals this season. Defensively, Dani Hansen is 24th in the nation with 49 saves on the year for CU – which is tops in the Pac-12.
DOWN GOES THE TROJANS
After a tough battle in the first half, the Utes started to knock on the door against then-No. 14 USC at home. The continued pressure finally broke through in the 72' when Courtney Talbot lobbed one into the far side for Anna Escobedo to head in for the 1-0 lead. USC responded and played with a little more urgency, putting pressure on the Utah defense. However, that didn't deter the Ute as it tacked on an insurance goal in the 80' when Talbot again connected with Escobedo for her second score of the evening.
The win was Utah's first win over a top-25 at home since defeating #7 Washington State, 1-0, back on Oct. 7, 2018. Escobedo also became the second Ute to record a brace this season behind Hanna Olsen's two at Dixie State (Feb. 11).
LAST TIME OUT
Against arguably the best team in the west, Utah held its own against third-ranked UCLA last Sunday before the Bruins came away with the 2-0 victory. The Utah defense that shut out then #14 USC continued to step up when it was needed most and weathered a couple offensive attacks from the Bruins before Reilyn Turner finally broke through for UCLA in the 33'. Brooklyn James had a couple good looks on goal but UCLA's keeper was there each time to deny the Utes. The Bruins continued to attack the Utah back line but it held strong before Turner again found the open seam to punch through another goal at the 63' mark to seal the win for UCLA.
Utah wraps up its four-match homestand next Friday, March 26, when it hosts Washington for a 2 p.m. (MT) contest at Ute Field. The Huskies are ranked 23rd in the latest United Soccer Coaches Poll and checks in at 5-1-2 overall heading into this week with a 2-1-2 mark in conference play.