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Unbeaten UTEP Returns Home To Challenge Wyoming And Texas State

The UTEP soccer team will return home for games against Wyoming (7 p.m. MDT Friday) and Texas State (12 p.m. MDT Sunday) at University Field this weekend. After playing three straight road tilts, the Miners (2-0-2) will play four of their final six non-conference matches at home.

Fans who wear USA gear get in free for the tilt vs. the Cowgirls (2-1-1) as part of the “USA Soccer Celebration” promotion. There will be free doughnuts (while supplies last) courtesy of Krispy Kreme vs. the Bobcats (2-1-1) as part of the “Go Nuts For Doughnuts” promo.

“We are very excited to be back at home this weekend after a three-game road swing,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We look forward to playing in front of our great fans! We have two excellent teams coming in town this weekend making it a very challenging weekend. Both Wyoming and Texas State are strong teams in very good conferences. We will have to be in top form to get results this weekend and we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Scouting Wyoming

Wyoming is 2-1-1 on the year and it sports a +3 goal differential (7-4). It features a balanced attack, with six different players having accounted for the squad’s seven goals on the year. Katie Marcheso is the lone player with multiple (two) goals on the year.

Wyoming yielded one goal while getting off to a 1-0-1 start before allowing three last time out in a 3-2 loss at Iowa on Aug. 28. Five of the seven goals on the year by the Cowgirls have come in the second half. Overall Wyoming has significant advantages in shots (61-37), shots on goal (31-17) and corner kicks (29-10).

Georgia Rowntree has started all four matches at GK; she has recorded a .765 save percentage to go along with a 0.95 GAA.

Series History With Wyoming

UTEP is 3-0 all-time against Wyoming, but the two squads last met in 1998. The Miners picked up victories in each of the first three years of the program during Western Athletic Conference play (2-0, 10/25/96; 1-0, 10/10/97 and 3-0, 10/25/98).

Scouting Texas State

Texas State is 2-1-1 on the year, posting a +2 goal differential (4-2) with four different players finding the back of the net. The Bobcats opened up with consecutive 2-0 wins at Lamar (8/19) and vs. Prairie View A&M (8/21) before falling at McNeese State by the same score on Aug. 26.

Texas State battled to a scoreless draw vs. Houston on Aug. 28. It has been dominant statistically, outshooting foes 82-20, including 38-13 for shots on goal, while also holding an edge in corner kicks (15-10). The Bobcats have used two goaltenders, with both Kathryn Budde and Heather Martin being effective.

Series History With Texas State

UTEP is 10-2-1 all-time against Texas State, with the two sides locking up every year but one (2010) since 2002. While the Miners have an advantage in the series, most of the contests have been close. Last year UTEP picked up a 2-1 road win while the squads played to a scoreless draw in the Bobcats’ most-recent visit to El Paso in 2014.

Starting Strong

For the second time in the past three years and sixth occasion overall, UTEP stands unbeaten through four games (2-0-2). The longest such surge to start a season at the school was in 2005 (15 games; 14-0-1) followed by the 2002 squad (12 games; 12-0-0). Tying for third are the 1998 (six games; 6-0-0) and 2014 (six games; 5-0-1) teams. The 2008 squad (five games; 5-0-0) is fifth followed by this year’s team (four games; 2-0-2).

Road Warriors

UTEP capped off its three-game road swing by downing Grand Canyon University, 3-2, on Aug. 28. The Miners are now 17-7-5 on the road since the start of the 2013 season, including the mark of 1-0-2 this year.

UTEP, which has strung together a school-record three straight seasons with winning road records, will have its next away game at Incarnate Word on Sept. 9.

Rare Road-Heavy Schedule To Start

UTEP played three of its first four games on the road, something which hasn’t happened since the formative years of the program. In 1996, the inaugural season for Miner soccer, UTEP opened up with five straight road games while it had 10 consecutive (nine road, one neutral site) such tilts in 1997.

Second-Half Spark

UTEP erupted for three goals after the break in the 3-2 win at Grand Canyon University on Aug. 28. Overall seven of the Miners’ eight goals have come in the second half. UTEP scored once in the first 45 minutes vs. NM State (W, 5-0, Aug. 19) before finding the back of the net four times in the second stanza.

Consistency In Starting 11

UTEP’s starting line-up has been pretty consistent through the first two weeks of action. Eight players, including four seniors (Bri Barreiro, Aleah Davis, Nicole Lindsay and Bri Thomas), have started all four games. True freshmen Lauren Crenshaw and Kori Lewis and sophomores Alyssa Palacios and Payton Ross have also started every contest this year.

Palacios Up To The Task

Sophomore GK Alyssa Palacios has gotten off to a strong start in 2016. She has allowed just two goals in her 391:15 minutes of action (14th nation), making 28 saves (16th nation) for a .933 save percentage (21st nation). Palacios has recorded at least six saves in every match, including a season-high eight stops in the 3-2 win at Grand Canyon University on Aug. 28.

Balanced Attack

Six different players have scored for UTEP in 2016; senior Bri Thomas leads the way with three goals (29th nation) while Bri Barreiro, Yesenia Contreras, Aleah Davis, Jodie Enokson and Emily Blaettner have also found the back of the net. Davis paces the squad with three assists (14th nation) while Barreiro has a pair (46th nation). Contreras, Carleigh Simmons and Thomas all have one helper each.

The Basic Facts

UTEP is in its 21st season as a program, boasting an all-time record of 228-149-30, including 2-0-2 this year. The Miners are under the direction of 16th-year head coach Kevin Cross, who sports a mark of 186-101-23 in that timeframe. He is assisted by two former Miners (Heather Clark and Jessie Pettit). UTEP returned 12 letter winners, including nine starters, from last year’s team (11-7-2, 4-4-2 C-USA).

Looking Ahead To Next Weekend

UTEP will wrap up the road portion of its non-conference slate by playing at Incarnate Word (6 p.m. MDT, Sept. 9) and at Stephen F. Austin (12 p.m. MDT, Sept. 11).

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