In the midst of a five-game road trip, the UTEP soccer team will travel to play at Southern Utah and UNLV this week.
Story via UTEP Athletics
The Miners take on the Thunderbirds in Cedar City on Thursday at 4 p.m. MT and will be in Las Vegas on Sunday for a 2 p.m. MT start against the Rebels.
Live stats on Thursday will be available on the Southern Utah SIDEARM Stats Portal. Live video coverage will be offered on ESPN+. Sunday will feature live stats on the UNLV SIDEARM Stats Portal with no live stream expected to be provided.
ABOUT SOUTHERN UTAH
The Thunderbirds (3-0) have already eclipsed their win total from last season (2-13-2) by kicking off the new campaign with wins over Alcorn State, Mississippi Valley State and Jackson State. Over the course of those three matches, SUU has outscored the opposition 18-0. This is the first time in program history that the Thunderbirds have won three in a row to start the season and also the first time that the team has taken three straight on the road. The rapid ascent has been in large part to freshman forward Sammie Sofonia, a product of Murray High School in Utah who was a four-time All-State performer as a prep, as she leads the team with six goals. Victoria Caucci (2 goals, 3 assists), Ashley Rivera (2 goals, 3 assists), Hailey Hamataka (2 goals) and Whitney Wangsgard (2 goals) have each impressed in the early season as well. SUU has not allowed a goal in 270 minutes of action this year thanks to the keeper duo of Megan Short and Naomi Kehl. Short has seen the bulk of the action and has 12 saves on 21 shots faced. The Thunderbirds were picked 11th in the Western Athletic Conference Preseason Coaches’ Poll prior to the season. A total of 17 of the 32 players on the roster hail from the state of Utah.
UNLV (0-2) played a pair of contests at the Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque last week, dropping the season opener 2-1 to CSU Bakersfield and a 5-1 affair against No. 6 Rutgers. The Rebels finished 2021 with a mark of 12-8 overall and went 5-6 in the Mountain West. Taylie Liddell and Cadence Whitley have scored a goal apiece this season for UNLV, with Hevani Haunga and Jules Dominguez back as key returners alongside Liddell for the squad. Midfielder Sadie Newsom is expected to be one of the impact newcomers for the team and has seen action in 127 minutes to this point. The program has posted a winning record in each of the first two seasons under head coach Jenny Ruiz-Williams.
UTEP has experienced plenty of success against SUU over the years, holding a 4-0 edge in the all-time series, including a 2-1 win in 2013 during the only previous meeting in Cedar City. This will be the third meeting between the Miners and Rebels, with UNLV coming out on top in each of the prior contests. The most recent game pairing the two sides came in 2014 when the Rebels won 1-0 in El Paso. UNLV won the only meeting in Las Vegas by a 3-0 tally during the 2000 season.
SUU and UNLV played in an exhibition prior to the season in which the Thunderbirds came out on top by a 4-0 score.
The Miners began each match last week with the same unit on the field, with six players making their first career starts in the Orange and Blue. Newcomers Eve Barry, Anna Chor, Leslie Gutierrez, Mina Rodriguez, Justice Tillotson and Daniele Tovar each stepped into starting roles for UTEP last week.
FOUR MORE DEBUTS
In addition to the six new faces who started last week, Clarissa Gutierrez, Kaila Hudson, Sophia Lewis and Elena Reyna each made their first appearances for the Miners as well.
LONG ROAD TRIP
UTEP will continue a stretch of five games in a row on the road this week. The Miners last played five straight away from home during the 2012 season, with games at NM State, East Carolina, Marshall, SMU and Tulsa from Sept. 21-30.
UTEP had five opportunities on corners to three for Abilene Christian on Sunday.
The Miners face off with rival NM State on Sept. 1 at 7 p.m. MT in Las Cruces. UTEP then ventures north to Wyoming on Sept. 4 to dual with the Cowgirls.