Cougars push for playoffs

It’s gut-check time for the UH soccer team as it heads into the penultimate weekend of regular season play. The Cougars will claw tooth and nail against Texas-El Paso (11-5-1, Conference USA 4-3-1) at 5 p.m. Friday at Robertson Stadium before heading to Colorado Springs, Colo. to face Colorado College (11-4-2, 5-2-1 C-USA).

The struggling Cougars (5-9-1, C-USA 1-6-1) are still in the hunt for a spot in the conference tournament, but the chips are stacked high against them.

"We have to win our next three games to have a shot at conference," head coach Susan Bush said. We need to shake things up a little bit. We need to go for results, go for wins. We’re playing a little bit different formation then you’ve seen in the last couple games."

Sophomore forward Lauri Byrne has been playing defense for the Cougars this year, but will reclaim her position on the front line this week in hopes of amplifying offensive attacks.

"We have tough games this week, so we’ve been focusing on coming out hard and finishing hard. We can’t fall behind early or give up at the end of games," Byrne said.

The Cougars must maintain an air of levity as postseason potential hangs delicately in the balance.

"Because we don’t have a deep roster, we’re playing well on Fridays but we’re struggling on Sundays, and I think a lot of that is our fitness and our lack of depth, but team moral is exceptional in that they get along so well," Bush said.

UTEP has outscored UH 13-2 in their last three meetings, including a double-overtime loss in 2005. Colorado College has bested the Cougars in two consecutive years, but Byrne tasted success against the Tigers when she netted UH’s only goal in their 3-1 loss last year.

Bush, however, is fully focused on their game against UTEP.

"Right now we’re just thinking about Friday. The position that we’re in is that we need to win, so we’re going to play the best 11 that get us our results on Friday," Bush said. "(The players) know what they have to do, and we’re ready for the weekend."

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