The UTEP soccer team (7-11, 3-6 Conference USA) will look to close out the 2017 season on a high note when it plays at UTSA (3-13, 2-7 C-USA) at 6 p.m. MT Friday. The match will serve as the regular-season finale for both squads.
“We are looking forward to finishing off the season on a positive note,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “UTSA has become one of our rivalry games, so we know they will play with lots of energy, especially since the game is in San Antonio. UTSA has a very deep roster and they play very hard. It will be a challenge, and we look forward to the game.”
Going Back In Time
UTEP defeated Marshall, 2-0, on its “Senior Night” on Oct. 19 behind goals from Anna Jimmerson and Aylin Villalobos while freshman Caley Leask recorded four saves in her collegiate debut. The Miners then hit the road where they were edged at Florida Atlantic, 1-0, on Oct. 22 despite having an 8-6 advantage in shots on goal.
Series History Vs. UTSA
UTEP is 5-0-1 all-time against UTSA, including having won the past four meetings. The Miners are 1-0-1 when facing the Roadrunners in San Antonio, site of this year’s match-up. The past two affairs have been decided by one goal, including a 3-2 home UTEP victory on Oct. 14, 2016, last season.
Brief Rundown On The Roadrunners
UTSA (3-13, 2-7 Conference USA) defeated Abilene Christian, 2-1, in its season opener on Aug. 18 before proceeding to drop its final six non-conference contests. The Roadrunners got off to a 1-1 start in C-USA play only to lose their next six in league play. UTSA got back on track, though, by virtue of a 4-2 road victory at FIU last time out on Oct. 22.
The four goals set a season high. Offensively Ellis Patterson (four goals) and Channing Machen (three goals) are the top two scoring threats. Sarah Bayhi (three) paces the team in assists. Michelle Cole has earned the bulk of the playing time in net, recording 56 total saves.
Leask Makes Debut
With an injury to Alyssa Palacios, who had started the first 58 games of her career, UTEP turned to freshman GK Caley Leask to step in at the pressure-packed position. She did an admirable job, turning away all four shots faced to record a shutout in her first career contest in the 2-0 win against Marshall on Oct. 19.
Leask followed that up by registering five saves in a 1-0 setback at Florida Atlantic on Oct. 22. Her save percentage for the two games was a sensational 90.0 percent.
Kennadie Chaudhary is one of three seniors on the squad for the Miners, and she’s made the most of her final go-around with the Orange and Blue. She has scored four goals, which sets a seasonal career high. 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 four goals have come on 12 shots on target.
Not Just A Defender
While sophomore Lauren Crenshaw has made her mark on defense in 2017, she’s also used her unique skillset to jump into the attack at the opportune time. The most recent example of that came in the 3-1 setback against Middle Tennessee on Oct 15. Crenshaw picked up a ball in space, headed up the pitch and buried it past a diving keeper for her second goal of the campaign. She also ranks second on the squad in assists (three).
Freshman Anna Jimmerson (six) freshman Vic Bohdan (five) and senior Kennadie Chaudhary (four) have combined to score 15 of UTEP’s 25 goals on the season. Bohdan also paces the squad in assists (four), points (14), shots (47) and shots on goal (24).
Freshmen Anna Jimmerson (six) and Vic Bohdan (five) 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 98 saves (first C-USA/19th nation) in 2017 (6.13 saves/match-first C-USA/27th nation), including matching her career high with 10 saves against both New Mexico on Aug. 27 and Old Dominion on Oct. 1. She started the year fourth place on the career Miner charts but with 341 saves has now climbed into second all-time. She has surpassed both Sarah Dilling (317; 2011-14) and Brittany Poppoff (270; 2004-07). The school record holder is Amanda Smith (438; 1996-99).
Up To The Task
Not only has Alyssa Palacios piled up the saves, she has done so at outstanding percentage. In 2017 Palacios is turning away 81.7 percent (fifth C-USA/89th nation) of shots faced, which has allowed her to continue to currently hold the top spot for that category in the Miners’ record books. For her career Palacios has recorded 341 saves while allowing only 66 goals for a percentage of 83.8 percent.
Start Her Up
Junior GK Alyssa Palacios started the first 16 matches of the season, playing a total of 1478:06 minutes (fourth C-USA/112th nation). That has elevated her to 58 starts since joining UTEP. The effort has vaulted her into third place on the UTEP career charts for starts by a GK. Palacios missed both games last week with an injury.
With three shutouts this year, junior GK Alyssa Palacios has elevated her career total to 18 which pulls her into a tie for third place on the Miner all-time charts. The effort has also put her within striking distance of program-record holder Sarah Dilling (20;2011-14) and her next shutout will break the tie with Brittany Popoff (2004-07) while also moving her past Amanda Smith (18.5; 1996-99).
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.
Soto Shines Vs. Charlotte
Freshman Jackie Soto stepped up in a big way against Charlotte on Sept. 29, delivering her first career goal and game-winning goal in the 1-0 victory against the then C-USA league leaders. In the 20th minute she stole the ball and headed up the pitch. She then absolutely rocketed it into upper 90’s country past a helpless Charlotte GK.
UTEP Turned It Around
After dropping its first five matches, including four in overtime or double overtime, UTEP turned it around by winning five straight and six of the next seven games to climb all the way back to .500 on the year on two separate occasions. It marked the first time in program history that a team had been at least five games below .500 and managed to get all the way back to even.
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.
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.
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 in 2017. The five OT games tie 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. The trend has continued since that point. Overall 11 of the 18 contests, including five in league play, have been of the one-goal variety.
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 204-119-23 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 62.5 percent (204-119-23). 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 246-165-30. The Miners are under the direction of 17th-year head coach Kevin Cross, who sports a mark of 204-119-23 in that time frame. He is assisted by two former Miners (Heather Clark and Jessie Pettit).
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.