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Utah Women's Soccer Opens 2021 Season Thursday

Aug 17, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY – Under the direction of first-year head coach Hideki Nakada, the Utah women's soccer team opens the 2021 season on Thursday when the Utes take on Portland. Following the contest, Utah remains at home to face Boise State on Sunday.

Date | Time: Thursday, Aug. 19 | 7 p.m. MT
Utah (0-0-0) vs. Portland (0-0-0)
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah | Ute Field
Live Stats: Click Here
Live Stream: Click Here
Tickets: Click Here
Twitter Updates: @UtahWSoccer
Date | Time: Sunday, Aug. 22 | 3 p.m. MT
Utah (0-0-0) vs. Boise State (0-0-0)
Location: Salt Lake City, Utah | Ute Field
Live Stats: Click Here
TV: Pac-12 Networks
Tickets: Click Here
Twitter Updates: @UtahWSoccer

Thursday marks the start of a new era for the Utes on the soccer pitch. On May 27th, Utah Director of Athletics Mark Harlan named Hideki Nakada as the head coach of the women's soccer program. He became the third coach in Utah women's soccer history. Coach Nakada is no stranger to the Pac-12 as he spent the last seven years at Stanford as an assistant coach and the final three as an associate head coach.
In his seven years on The Farm, Nakada helped guide the Cardinal to two National Championships (2017, 2019) and five-consecutive Pac-12 Championships (2015-19). During his seven seasons, Stanford compiled a remarkable 132-15-10 overall record with a dominating 66-6-4 mark in the Conference of Champions with four College Cup appearances.
Entering the 2021 season, the Pilots of the University of Portland were picked to finish fifth in the West Coast Conference. The Pilots are coming off a spring season that saw them finish the season 3-4-3 and were 1-3-2 on the road. The last time these two teams met was during the 2006 season when Portland defeated Utah, 3-0, in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Portland is led by striker Taryn Ries, who was selected to the 2021 All-WCC women's Soccer Preseason Team. The selection for Ries marks the third time in her career that she has made the preseason squad. Ries had a stellar season in a COVID-shortened year, finishing with five goals and making the All-WCC First Team. She put together a hat trick against Oregon State in the season opener and another two goals against the Pacific Tigers. The Pilots bring back all but four players from the 2020-21 roster for the upcoming season and had five players earn All-WCC honors.
Boise State enters the 2021 season picked to finish third in the Mountain West Conference. Sunday's match will be the first regular-season for the Broncos. They host the College of Idaho in an exhibition contest on Wednesday. The Broncos finished the 2021 spring season with a record of 5-4-1. The last time these two programs met was in 2019 when Utah came away with a 1-0 double-overtime victory at Boise State.
The Broncos return 22 letterwinners from last season's squad, including Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year Macie Nelson and two-time All-MW first teamer Aubree Chatterton. Nelson, a three-year starter for the Broncos, has been an integral part of the Boise State back line since her freshman season. The Broncos defense allowed just eight goals, a program low and good enough for the second-fewest in the Mountain West. Chatterton's season was cut short due to a leg injury limiting her to just six games. However, she still finished the season tied for the most points on the team at four. She totaled one goal and two assists on 19 shots.
Following the unusual 2020 season, then-freshman Taliana Kaufusi earned a spot on the Pac-12 All-Freshman team. She became the eighth Ute to earn All-Freshman honors in program history and the first since Hailey Stodden earned the honor following the 2018 season.
The Salt Lake City native made an immediate impact to the program in her first season, starting all 16 matches of the 2021 spring slate as a forward. She was one of just four Utes to start every match this spring. Kaufusi tallied her first career goal, as well as her first career assist in the 2-1 victory over Arizona for her first points of the season.
Kaufusi logged the sixth-most minutes on the roster, while playing the most minutes of any forward. She posted a team-high 42 shots, including 20 shots on goal. She tallied game-highs of five shots and five shots on goal against Weber State and matched the season-high with five shots against Colorado.
Opening at Ute Field
For the first time since the 2017 season, the Utes will open with back-to-back home games at Ute Field. Utah will open the season with three of the first four games at home with the first road trip coming on Thursday, Aug. 26. During the 2017 season, the Utes opened the season with three straight games at Ute Field and went 3-0, while outscoring their opponents 15-1. The season-opener is the first since the 2018 season, where Utah hosted Minnesota.
The Utes return 20 to the team for the 2021 season and welcome seven newcomers to the squad. New Utes looking to make their debuts are freshmen Kasey Wardle, Maryn Granger, Sahve Beller, Megan Lusher, Baylie Jackson, Ella Spangler and transfer Mackenna Doilney.
Out of the seven newcomers, three come from Utah, and one each from California, Colorado, Idaho and Oregon. Doilney, Granger and Lusher come from Utah, while Jackson (California), Spranger (Colorado), Wardle (Idaho) and Beller (Oregon) round out the four newcomers from out of state.
Following the first two home games of the year on Thursday and Sunday, the Utes hit the road for the first road game of the season when they travel to Denver, Colorado to face the University of Denver. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. MT. Utah returns to Ute Field on Sunday, Aug. 29 when they host Northern Colorado in non-conference action. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. MT.