Another weekend, another road trip for Utah soccer. This weekend the Utes are in the Bay Area to take on No. 23-ranked Cal at Goldman Field in Berkeley. This marks the third straight weekend on the road for the Utes and their third game out of the last five against a Top 25 opponent.
The Pac-12 is loaded with great teams this year, with every school but Oregon State in the top 50 of the NCAA RPI. Cal will prove to be yet another tough opponent for the Utes to face on the road. The Golden Bears are led by senior Taylor Comeau who has seven scores and five assists on the season. Their freshman keeper, Emily Boyd , has three shutouts and has played well this season. Other names to keep an eye on are senior Grace Leer (4 goals) and sophomore Kelly Fitzgerald (5 goals). Depth is one of Cal's strong suits with 12 players having scored at least once this season.
"Cal has fantastic talent and depth," Utah head coach Rich Manning said. "They are skilled at all 11 positions and can control the game with possession."
Cal's depth has been on display this season with Cal regularly wearing opponents down in the second half. Cal has out scored opponents by 11 goals in the second half. Coach Manning acknowledged Cal rotates heavily throughout the game keeping fresh legs on the field. It will be important for the Utes to control the ball when they have the opportunity keep Cal from dictating the tempo of the game.
The Utes broke a three-game goal drought on Sunday against Oregon State in a 2-0 win and will need to continue to take advantage of opportunities to score against the talented Cal squad. Cal has outscored opponents this year 30-13. Despite the lack of scoring recently, the Utes have had their opportunities, and it will be crucial for them to convert their chances into goals.
"We have some excellent attacking players on our team and I have confidence that we'll be able to put the goals in that we need in order to get results," Manning said.
Utah's last win over a Top 25 team on the road was in 2006 against Stanford. In addition the Utes are 0-5-1 in the all time series against Cal. Despite this the team isn't approaching this game any differently than any other.
"The value of each game is that we have an opportunity to earn three points in the conference standings," Manning said. "Friday will be another opportunity to get three points."
The Utes will fight for another three points today in the ultra competitive Pac-12 and try to move their way up the conference standings. You can follow the action live at 3 pm MT on Pac-12 Networks.