Utah women’s soccer brings back an experienced team from the program’s historic 2016 season, when the Utes advanced to their first-ever NCAA Sweet 16. Utah won 13 games—their most since 2006—and accrued their highest point total since joining the Pac-12.
The Utes return a pair of NSCAA All-Region and All-Pac-12 performers in Hailey Skolmoski and Tavia Leachman. Skolmoski is back, along with 80 percent of the team’s scoring output from a year ago. Leachman is part of a completely intact backline. Both goalkeepers from 2016 return as well.
In 2016, Skolmoski became the first Ute to ever earn first team All-Pac-12 honors. Her 13 goals were the most for any Ute since 2007 and ranked 23rd in the nation, tops among Pac-12 players. Skolmoski is joined up front by four-year starter Natalie Vukic. In the attacking midfield role, Utah welcomes back Paola van der Veen. Limited due to injuries in 2016, the Dutch native led the team in assists and was named to the Pac-12 All-Freshman Team in 2015. Junior midfielder Eden Jacobsen started 19 games last season.
At center defender, Leachman burst on the scene and was one of three freshmen to start every game on the back line a year ago. Her partner in crime was Natalee Wells, who developed into a dangerous dead-ball specialist. She assisted on the game-winners vs. No. 9 UCLA and NCAA Tournament victim Texas Tech before adding another helper in the victory over No. 10 FSU. Defender Janie Kearl is one of two seniors on the roster and has played in every game the last two years.
In goal, July Mathias started 16 games for the Utes and finished 25th in the nation with a 0.67 goals-against average. She had a .859 save percentage, good for 21st in the nation. Carly Nelson started six games as a newcomer.
Utah soccer traveled to Germany for three matches during a 10-day stretch in mid-May. The Utes traveled to a number of cities including Frankfurt, Munich and Augsburg while also making a jaunt into the Alps. Utah played matches against SC Opel 06 Ru¨sselheim, MTV Dießen and FC Staad. The team also took in a Bundesliga match between FC Augsburg and Hamburger SV, visited a TSV Hoffenheim practice at its training ground, and took a tour of the Allianz Arena, home of German champion Bayern Munich.
Hailey Skolmoski and Tavia Leachman were invited to the U.S. Under-23 Women's National Team camp from Jan. 6-13 in Carson, Calif.
Come along for the ride as we traveled to Milwaukee and Chicago to take on Marquette and DePaul – our first road trip in 2015.
Meet members of the Utah soccer team and find out what being a Ute is all about.
The Utah soccer program provides 360 ° development, supporting every aspect of a student-athlete's life to help her reach her full potential on and off the field. What does this mean? Scroll over each person in the family photo to see how they make a difference! (For optimal viewing, use a computer or tablet.)
"We love working with the ball, playing ball and having a ball. There is nothing like testing yourself to be your best alongside great people. Our team is bursting with players and staff that love the game and want to push each other. I love coming to the University each day. We have such a positive and energized environment. We love representing the Utes. And I see our players every day achieving great things on and off the field. It's AWESOME!"
"Success to me is giving your best effort consistently, embracing the challenges, getting back up, and having just enough GRIT to finish what you start. It always boils down to hard work. Talent, opportunity, winning all look a lot like hard work. Every time one of our players reaches a milestone or finds their daily success, this is winning."
"Success is no accident. It is hard work, perseverance, learning, studying, sacrifice and most of all, love of what you are doing."
"I am very excited to have an opportunity to be on the staff here at Utah and to work with the goalkeepers. My philosophy for the goalkeepers is to adapt my coaching to each player's unique style and to bring out their potential in all aspects of the position."