Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics
Coming into the 2019 season, one of the biggest question marks surrounding the UTEP soccer team was who would replace recording-setting goalkeeper and four-year starter Alyssa Palacios.
Through 11 games played, freshman Emily Parrott has stepped up to provide stability at a critical position on the pitch.
With fellow classmate and GK Zoey Lopez sidelined with an injury since the second game of the year, the burden to perform has been placed squarely on Parrott’s shoulders. She has handled that pressure well, compiling a goals-against average of 1.11 and a .739 save percentage while starting 10 of 11 matches.
“I felt like I needed to step up and be there for my team,” Parrot said. “I know it’s a tough situation (with Lopez having been injured).”
The way she responded to the situation drew the attention of head coach Kathryn Balogun.
“She was put in a tough spot with our other GK going down with an injury early in the season,” Balogun said. “I think Emily has done a great job. She stepped up and took the position and made it her own going into conference play. “
Her play has helped the Miners (7-2-2, 2-0 C-USA) already match both their overall and conference win totals from a year ago, and with every solid performance she gains a little more confidence.
“I expected it to be intense and to be fast paced,” Parrott said. “It’s been just that. Since the first game I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable, and it’s helped me to be more comfortable with the girls on the field and more confident in the games.”
Balogun has seen some improvement as well, and also understands the challenges that come with the position.
“Her fitness and confidence have been her greatest gains over the last two months,” Balogun said. “Goalkeeping is such a unique position in soccer. The physical demands exist but the mental IQ is so important. You need to be good at any moment.”
At 2-0, UTEP is off to its best start in Conference USA play since 2011. Yet Parrott isn’t letting the early success change her perspective.
“Obviously I have a big picture in mind,” Parrott said. “I really think the team can do well and we have a lot of potential in conference. Every week it’s something new, and we just need to focus on each game.”
Parrott was credited with a career-best five saves in the 2-1 win at Grand Canyon (8/29/19) and then again in the 3-2 come-from-behind victory at Marshal (9/26/17). She also made four stops on three other occasions. She’s allowed a total of 12 goals in 11 games played, with two of those coming on penalty kicks. Parrott has also recorded a trio of shutouts.
“She is able to control games and has great game management as a freshman,” Balogun said. “She needs to continue to work on set pieces and her explosiveness when coming off her line.
The position is nothing new for Parrott, who has been a goalie for almost as long as she has played the sport.
“I’ve been playing soccer since I was four,” Parrott said. “I started playing goalie a couple of years after. There was a goalie coach at the field one day and my dad wanted me to go over. I pretty much liked it the first day. I like that it’s something different. It’s unpredictable, and there’s always something new every game.”
Time will tell for how the remainder of the season plays out, but her desire remains the same.
“I just want to win and for the team to do as well as it can,” Parrott said. “I love when my team does great defensively.”
For complete coverage of UTEP soccer, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPSoccer (Twitter), @UTEPMinersSoccer (Instagram) and on Facebook or visit the official home of UTEP Athletics at UTEPMiners.com.