File photo courtesy Andres Acosta -El Paso Herald Post
UTEP soccer will kick off its 25th season at Pac-12 opponent Arizona State on Thursday, February 4 in Tempe.
The Miners and Sun Devils are set to commence the 2021 Spring campaign at 7 p.m. MT in Sun Devil Stadium. The match will also be streamed on the Pac-12 Network.
UTEP Head Coach Kathryn Balogun made an immediate impact during her first year in 2019. Balogun guided the Miners to a 10-7-3 overall record, making it their first double-digit win total at the school in three years. UTEP also finished with its first winning season (5-4-1) in Conference USA play since 2014, while punching its ticket to the league championships for the first time since 2016.
Arizona State finished with a 6-11-3 overall record and went 0-9-2 in Pac-12 play during the 2019 season.
“We are really excited to get the season started with the first road trip of 2021,” Balogun said. “We will start the weekend with Arizona State, who is a quality program and has multiple international national team players. They look to build and are similar to our own style. We will need to be defensively organized and take advantage of the opportunities we are afforded. This season will bring its own challenges, but our team is ready to take advantages of the games we are able to play.”
Thursday’s match will mark the third regular-season meeting between the Miners and Sun Devils. UTEP and Arizona State last met during the regular season on Sept. 19, 1997 with the Sun Devils coming out on top, 5-1, in Tempe.
The two programs first met on Oct. 4, 1996, as UTEP won 2-1 in Albuquerque, N.M. UTEP and Arizona State also faced each other during the 2010 and 2012 Spring seasons.
The 2021 Spring roster features four seniors, eight juniors, 10 sophomores and five freshmen.
“We only lost three seniors from last season and we were able to bring back so many players. Even if they’re younger, they’ll be able to help the new players which will help us take the next step,” Balogun said. “It’s a great foundation for us.”
A trio of key starters are returning for the Miners this Spring. Sophomore forward Tessa Carlin who started in 19 of 20 matches played, led the team in points (17), assists (seven) and tied for the team lead with five goals last season. The Winnipeg, Manitoba, product was named to the 2019 C-USA All-Freshman team.
Junior forward Jojo Ngongo, who made 16 starts in 20 matches played, tied for second on the team in points (13) and ranked second with five assists. The Winnipeg native ranked third on the squad with four goals. Ngongo (two) and Carlin (two) tied for the team lead for game-winning goals.
Sophomore goalkeeper Emily Parrott also returns after starting in 19 of 20 matches played her freshman season. Parrott cracked the UTEP top-10 single-season list for shutouts (seven-tied third), minutes played (1806:40), most wins (100-tied eighth) and starts (19-tied eighth). Her 61 saves placed sixth on the UTEP freshman season list.
Midfielder/defender Nicole Pugsley (seven points, two goals, three assists), forward Jackie Soto (six points, two goals, two assists), defender Isabel Trevino (sat out 2019), and defender Cayla Payne (20 games played) will return for their senior seasons.
Juniors forward Kam Fisher (19 matches played, goal), midfielder/defender Hayley Vaughan (17 matches played, assist), forward Michelle O’Driscoll (transfer from Daytona State College), midfielder Kristen Prevosto (transfer from Marist), forward Ayana Noel (16 matches played, goal, assist), defender Chardonnae Harvey (16 matches played) and forward/midfielder Vic Bohdan (sat out 2019 as a redshirt) will provide veteran leadership to the squad.
The other sophomores include defender Trinity-Marie Edwards (transfer from South Carolina State), midfielder/defender Vanessa Cabello (18 matches played, assist), defender Lilly Marquez 18 matches played, goal, assist), forward/midfielder Adriana Lopez (14 matches played, assist), defender Emerson Kidd (20 matches played, two assists), goalkeeper Mariah Scott, midfielder/defender Jackie Miller (20 matches played, two goals) and defender Sydney Nickell (transfer from Northern Arizona).
Defender Ashely Padilla, forward Maia Rodriguez, midfielder Cayman Tamez, midfielder/defender Raquel Houston, and forward Bella Benavides make up the freshmen class.
For Arizona State, junior forward Nicole Douglas returns after leading the Sun Devils in points (20) and goals (eight) in 2019. She also added four assists. Junior midfielder Eva van Deursen scored 12 points and led ASU with six assists last season.
UTEP recently fell to NM State, 3-1, in an exhibition match on Jan. 29 at University Field. Ngongo scored the Miners’ only goal on an unassisted shot.
UTEP will return to action at Pac-12’s Arizona on Sunday, February 7.
The Miners and Wildcats will kick off at 1 p.m. MT at Murphey Field at Mulcahy Stadium. The Miners will open the home portion of the schedule on Thursday, Feb. 11 when they host NM State at 7 p.m.
Season and single-game tickets are available now online. Limited quantities will be sold to ensure that social distancing can be practiced at the venue.
For complete coverage of UTEP Soccer, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPSoccer (Twitter), @utepminerssoccer (Instagram) and on Facebook or click here to visit the official home of UTEP Athletics