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Utah women's soccer coach Rich Manning doesn't need to convince his players or himself that the Utes belong.
Whether by natural confidence or by virtue of feeling disrespected, the Utes are unfazed and unintimidated by the moment and are ready to upset No. 3 seed Florida State in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday at noon MST.
"There's no question that this attitude they've had is palpable," Manning said. "It's real, it's strong, it's carrying them and it's really fun to be around."
Utah (12-3-5) travels to Los Angeles to face the Seminoles (14-3-4) in a four team pod alongside Texas A&M and USC hoping to advance past the second round of the Tournament for the first time ever.
Manning said recognition for the Utes has "been pretty quiet" this season with the top-heavy strength of the Pac-12 and the in-state success of BYU overshadowing what Utah has accomplished.
Florida State is among the best defending teams in the nation this year allowing only seven goals all season while also reaching the Final Four of the Tournament in each the last five seasons and winning it all in 2014.
Redshirt sophomore goalkeeper July Mathias said while the Utes acknowledge FSU's impressive résumé, her teammates have reacted positively to adversity all season.
"Florida State has been doing well to make it to this point, but I don't feel like we need to change anything about our game either," she said.
Chief among Utah's concerns will be capitalizing on and preventing Florida State from capitalizing on set-piece chances. Defensively, they'll try to limit freshman forward Deyna Castellanos and sophomore midfielder Megan Connolly, who have combined for 14 goals this year.
"I think it's just about resilience and hanging in there," Utes junior forward Natalie Vukic said. "Battling until the end and maybe it takes us into overtime and maybe even takes us to penalty kicks, but we're just going to have the mindset of winning from the very beginning."
Vukic said the Utes will also prioritize absorbing Florida State's early pressure, jumping on mistakes to hopefully convert them into goals.
"We came in just feeling like we want to win this whole thing," Vukic said. "We've had the right attitude from the start."
The burden of advancing past the second round for the first time, the pressure of toppling an elite opponent none if it seems to be wearing on this Utah team.
" 'You guys are making history, and don't stop now,' " Manning said was his message to the team this week. " 'Don't be satisfied with this because there's opportunity knocking. Crash through the door.' "
No. 23 Utah vs. No. 10 Florida St.
P NCAA women's soccer second round at McAlister Field, Los Angeles
When • Friday, noon MT
Records • Utah 12-3-5, Florida State 14-3-4
TV • Pac-12 Network