FILE: “We urge our fans to come out for this great weekend of soccer as they really make a difference to our team. Friday night will be fun as it is our annual “Black Out” game where we wear our black uniforms, and fans get in for free in black too.”
The UTEP soccer team (5-6, 1-1 Conference USA) will play host to C-USA co-league leader Charlotte (7-3, 2-0 C-USA) at 7 p.m. MT Friday and Old Dominion (4-3-2, 1-1 C-USA) at 6 p.m. MT Sunday in a pair of important home match-ups this weekend.
“We are very excited to have two home games this weekend,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We have two excellent teams coming to town that are well coached and very good. We had a good performance last Friday night but ran into a keeper who made some big saves. This week we will be pushing our attack more. We urge our fans to come out for this great weekend of soccer as they really make a difference to our team. Friday night will be fun as it is our annual “Black Out” game where we wear our black uniforms, and fans get in for free in black too. Sunday we will have a free Rudy’s barbecue tailgate before the game at 6 pm, and also military night. You cannot beat that! We appreciate our UTEP Soccer fans support!”
It will be “Rock and Roll Black Out Night” vs. Charlotte with all fans wearing black getting in free. “Military Appreciation Day” is set for ODU with all military members who show ID at the gate getting in free.
There will also be free food-while supplies last-courtesy of Rudy’s Country Store & BBQ, which is doing a pre-game tailgate for the contest against ODU.
Going Back In Time
UTEP set its division one 2017 season single-game highs for both shots on goal (nine) and corner kicks (eight) while controlling tempo but visiting UAB received a goal from Rachel Green (70’) to secure a 1-0 victory over the Miners at a packed University Field on Sept. 22.
Series History Vs. Charlotte
Charlotte has a 2-1-1 lead in the series with UTEP, including a 1-0 victory at home in the 2016 C-USA semifinals last year on Nov. 4, 2016. The Miners had won in Charlotte, 4-3, during the regular season on Sept. 30, 2016, before the 49ers avenged that in the league championships. Charlotte is paying its second visit to El Paso; it managed to post a 2-1 victory on Oct. 23, 2015.
Brief Rundown On The 49ers
Charlotte is tied for first place in C-USA at 2-0, winning both of its games by a dominating score of 3-0. Overall the 49ers are 7-3 on the year, aided by peeling off six straight wins. Charlotte is nearly doubling up the opposition, outscoring them by a count of 23-12 and it has plenty of weapons to go around. Martha Thomas and Megan Green each have scored seven goals while Julia Grainda has four tallies. Thomas also paces the team with six assists. Charlotte, the defending C-USA champion, has outshot foes by a count of 151-99.
Series History Vs. Old Dominion
UTEP is undefeated against Old Dominion since ODU joined Conference USA, sporting a 2-0-1 advantage. The two squads battled to a tie in Norfolk in the first meeting in 2014 but UTEP has picked up victories in each of the past two years, including a 2-0 shutout road win last year (10/2/16).
Brief Rundown On The Lady Monarchs
Old Dominion is 4-3-2 on the year, including 1-1-0 in league play. The Lady Monarchs were edged last time out at FAU, 1-0, on Sept. 22, which snapped a four-match unbeaten streak. Jackie Stroud (four goals) and Kyra Ricks (three goals) pace the attack while Iris Achterhof has played her part with six assists. Krista Moisio has earned the bulk of the playing time in the net for ODU, which has conceded only 10 goals in 10 games.
We Must Protect This House
UTEP is 148-52-14 all time at home, including 122-33-10 in El Paso since 2002. The Miners are 3-4-0 at University Field this year, with all four of the setbacks coming by one goal, including three in either overtime or either double overtime. To appreciate the consistency of success in the Sun City consider that UTEP hasn’t lost more than four games at home since 2001 when it finished 1-6.
Kennadie Chaudhary is one of three seniors on the squad for the Miners, and she’s making the most of her final go-around with the Orange and Blue. She has already scored three goals, which matches her seasonal career high established as both a sophomore and a junior. The most important of those was the game-winning tally with just 59 seconds remaining in regulation at Southern Miss to lift UTEP to a 1-0 triumph in its Conference USA opener on Sept. 17. Making Chaudhary’s offensive exploits even more impressive is the fact her three goals have come on nine shots on target.
Third Time’s The Charm
For the third time of her career, Alyssa Palacios has garnered the C-USA Goalkeeper of the Week award. She was named it most recently on Sept. 18 after her dominant performance against Southern Miss (9/17/16) when she made six saves, including a one-vs.-one stop, on the way to notching her second shutout of the year. She was particularly strong in the first half, being called upon to deliver five saves.
UTEP smoked DII program New Mexico Highlands, 8-0, on Sept. 13. It marked the largest shutout victory at the school since an 11-0 conquest of Grambling State in 2006. Additionally the eight goals tied as the eighth most in a single game in program history. Seven different Miners scored in the contest.
All Good Things Must End
UTEP’s five-game winning streak came to a close with a hard-fought 1-0 loss vs. UAB on Sept. 22. The Miners outscored the opposition, 16-2, during the winning streak, which included three shutout victories.
Turning It Around
After dropping its first five matches, including four in overtime or double overtime, UTEP has turned things around to go 5-1-0 since. The Miners have outscored the opposition by a count of 16-3 in the sequence.
Offense Coming Alive
UTEP scored three goals on 22 shots on goal over the first five games of the season, four of which went to overtime. To their credit the Miners have made some adjustments and the offense has come alive in the past six contests. UTEP has tallied 16 goals in 41 shots on goal in six contests since. Helping give those numbers a big boost was the 8-0 whitewashing of New Mexico Highlands on Sept. 13.
Defense Is Too
The Miners conceded nine goals (1.80 goals per game) over the first five contests of the year but they have tightened things up since. In the six matches since, five UTEP wins, foes have managed a total of three tallies (0.50 goals per game).
All About The Attack
Freshmen Anna Jimmerson (five-fourth C-USA/78th nation) and Vic Bohdan (four) have accounted for nine of the Miners’ 19 goals on the year. Kennadie Chaudhary has three while Danielle Carreon and Cayla Payne each have two goals to their credit. Bohdan also paces the squad in assists (four-fifth C-USA/78th nation), points (12-fifth C-USA/103rd nation), shots (30) and shots on goal (17). Jimmerson is second on the team for points (10) while sharing second with Chaudhary for shots on goal (nine).
Freshmen Anna Jimmerson (five-fourth C-USA/78th nation) and Vic Bohdan (four) have proven to be the top scoring threats for the Miners in 2017. The last time UTEP had a freshman pace the team in goals scored was 2006 with Tameka Sumter (13). You have to go back to 2004 to find the last time the top-two spots were held by freshmen when Jami Tullius and Cara Nordin each recorded 10 goals.
Save The Day
Alyssa Palacios has compiled 66 saves (first C-USA/11th nation) in 2017 (6.00 saves/match-second C-USA/31st nation), including a career-high tying 10 stops against New Mexico on Aug. 27. Her career total now stands at 309 saves which pushed her into third place on the Miner charts. The record holder is Amanda Smith (438; 1996-99) while Sarah Dilling (317; 2011-14) occupies second place. Palacios started the year in fourth place, but has since surpassed Brittany Poppoff (270; 2004-07).
Start Her Up
Junior GK Alyssa Palacios has started the first 11 matches of the season, playing a total of 1028:06 minutes (first C-USA/21st nation). That has elevated her to 53 starts in as many matches since joining UTEP. The effort has allowed her to move from fifth place into fourth place on the UTEP career charts. Brittany Popoff (56; 2004-07) sits in third place.
For the first time in program history UTEP went to overtime in four straight contests to start the season. Overall the Miners have played overtime soccer five times so far in 2017. The five OT games already ties as the fifth most on the Miner single-season charts.
Freshmen Power In OT
Redshirt-freshman Cayla Payne hammered home a cross from true freshman Vic Bohdan to lift the Miners to a 2-1 overtime win at Idaho State on Sept. 3. It marked the first time in program history that UTEP had an OT winner where both the goal scorer and individual credited with an assist were both freshmen.
For the third time in program history (2008, 2015) the first four matches of the season were decided by one goal or less. Overall eight of the 11 games, including both league contests, have been one-goal outcomes.
Even though the Miners returned 13 letter winners, including six starters, they are notably young in 2017. Of the 27 student-athletes on the roster, 20 are either freshmen (12) or sophomores (eight). There are only three seniors and four juniors.
Cross Joins Club 200
In his 17th year as the Miners’ head coach Kevin Cross has joined an exclusive club in UTEP Athletics history. At 202-114-23 he is the fifth head coach in Miner sports history to reach 200 career wins at the school (reached it with 2-1 victory vs. Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 10, 2017). Previously Don Haskins (men’s basketball, 719-354), Norm Brandl (volleyball, 355-337), Keitha Adams (women’s basketball, 284-209) and co-head coaches James and Kathleen Rodriguez (softball, 211-325) achieved the feat. Cross also has the fourth-most tenured run by a Miner head coach. He trails Haskins (37 years), Jere Pelletier (women’s golf, 22 years and counting) and Bob Kitchens (track & field, 22 years).
Trailing Only Haskins
Not only has Kevin Cross joined the 200+ win club at UTEP (did so with 2-1 win vs. Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 10, 2017), he has done so in style. His winning percentage stands at 62.9 percent (202-114-23). That figure trails only Hall of Fame Coach Don Haskins (men’s basketball) among the 200+ victory UTEP head coach club. Haskins had a 67.0 winning percentage (719-354) in his 37 seasons roaming the sidelines.
The Basic Facts
UTEP is in its 22nd season as a program, boasting an all-time record of 244-162-30. The Miners are under the direction of 17th-year head coach Kevin Cross, who sports a mark of 202-114-23 in that time frame. He is assisted by two former Miners (Heather Clark and Jessie Pettit).
In 2017 the Miners hope to continue an unprecedented string of success on the road. Last year they went 5-4 in road matches to extend the school-record streak of a winning road record to four straight seasons. Overall they are a combined 23-14-3 on the road in that stretch, including 2-2 in 2017.
One of the best ways to measure a team’s worth across the board is the RPI, and that’s an area UTEP has thrived in. The Miners have produced a top-100 RPI in five of the eight past seasons and 10 times total under Kevin Cross, including a program-best 31 in 2005. Additionally, the Miners have secured a spot in the NSCAA Central Region top-10 poll in 11 of the past 13 seasons.
Matter Of Consistency
The Miners have averaged 12 wins while appearing in three conference title games and one NCAA tournament (2005, second round) under Kevin Cross. UTEP is one of 12 programs nationwide (325+ programs) to have hit 10+ wins in each year since 2002. Joining the Miners are Boston College, Florida, Florida State, North Carolina, North Texas, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, Texas A&M, Virginia and West Virginia.