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“This is a crucial week for us to qualify for the conference championships,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We had a five-game winning streak earlier this season so we are going to try to start another one this week..."

UTEP Soccer To Honor Seniors Thursday, Play On Road Sunday

The UTEP soccer team (6-10, 2-5 Conference USA) will lock up with Marshall (5-9, 3-4-1 C-USA) on “Senior Night” at 7 p.m. at University Thursday.

Seniors Kennadie Chaudhary, Devyn Hunley and Jeanna Mullen in a pre-match ceremony so fans are encouraged to arrive early for all of the festivities. The Miners will then wrap up the week by playing at Florida Atlantic (8-7-2, 3-4-1 C-USA) at 10:30 a.m. MT Sunday.

“This is a crucial week for us to qualify for the conference championships,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We had a five-game winning streak earlier this season so we are going to try to start another one this week! The task will not be easy as both opponents are tough. We play Marshall at home on Thursday for our last home game and “Senior Night” honoring our three outstanding seniors. Marshall is very aggressive and physical, and they have a great attack. We then make the trip to Florida to play Florida Atlantic who are a very good soccer team, and also have a great attack. We will be ready, and we look forward to the games.”

Going Back In Time
UTEP posted a season-high 22 shots, including eight on target, while also racking up six corner kicks but it couldn’t convert enough opportunities into goals in a 3-1 loss to Middle Tennessee at University Field on Oct. 15. Lauren Crenshaw tallied her second goal of the campaign for the Orange and Blue.

Series History Vs. Marshall
UTEP is 5-3-2 all-time against Marshall, but the Thundering Herd did successfully defend their home pitch with a 1-0 victory last season. The Miners, though, are 4-0-1 all-time against Marshall when playing in El Paso.

Brief Rundown On The Thundering Herd
Marshall (5-9-1, 3-4-1 C-USA) endured a 2-5 start to the season in non-conference play but it has improved to go 3-4-1 in C-USA action. The Thundering Herd are 3-2-1 over their last six matches, but they did fall at home to Florida Atlantic, 3-0, last time out on Oct. 15.

Jordan Sackaris paces the attack with five goals while four other players have two tallies each. Rene Ross has been the top distributor with three assists, but three others have two helpers to their credit.

Overall Marshall has been outscored, 29-15, including 20-6 during the second half. Megan Bonelli has earned the bulk of time in net, recording 71 saves and a trio of shutouts.

Series History Vs. Florida Atlantic
UTEP is 3-1 all-time against Florida Atlantic, but the Owls did post a 2-0 victory at home last year to secure their first win in the series since joining Conference USA.

Brief Rundown On The Owls
Florida Atlantic (8-7-2, 3-4-1) snapped a two-game losing streak by posting an impressive 3-0 victory Marshall last time out on Oct. 15. Ebba Blomqvist paces a balanced Owls’ attack with five goals but five other players have found the back of the net at least twice. Elisha Holmes and Pernille Velta share the squad lead for assists at four.

FAU has outscored the opposition, 25-20, on the year, including a dominating 16-8 advantage in the first half of contests. Jennifer Ocampo has played every minute of every match in goal, producing 75 saves and five shutouts.

One Final Push
The top-eight teams in Conference USA will qualify for the 2017 C-USA Championships, meaning that the Miners have an opportunity to make a final push during the last three regular-season games to punch their tickets to the league’s pinnacle event.

Currently UTEP sits in 11th place with six points but it could potentially finish with as many as 15 points which would put it in the mix for the top eight.

Taking It One Game At A Time
The old cliché in sports is to “take it one game at a time,” but that mantra rings true for UTEP for the stretch run of 2017. Yes the Miners need three wins in as many matches to have a shot at qualifying for the league championships but in order to have a chance at pulling that off they must first win at home against Marshall Thursday.

Sizing Up The Opposition
The Miners’ three final opponents (vs. Marshall-7 p.m. Thursday), at Florida Atlantic (10:30 a.m. MT Sunday) and at UTSA (6 p.m. MT Oct. 27) have a combined record of 15-28-3 on the year, including 7-14-2 in Conference USA play. UTEP will need a strong effort for the full 90 minutes in each game, and if it receives that, should be able to put itself in a position to potentially win each of the contests.

Bohdan Scores Again
Freshman Vic Bodhan put away her team-high tying fifth goal of the year in the 3-1 setback at North Texas on Oct. 6. Bohdan took possession of the ball in the box, spun and buried the shot past a diving keeper. She shares the team lead for goals with fellow classmate Anna Jimmerson.

Chaudhary’s Corner
Kennadie Chaudhary is one of three seniors on the squad for the Miners, and she’s making 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 11 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. 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).

Three-Headed Attack
Freshman Anna Jimmerson (five) freshman Vic Bohdan (five) and senior Kennadie Chaudhary (four) have combined to score 14 of UTEP’s 23 goals on the season. Bohdan also paces the squad in assists (four), points (14), shots (41) and shots on goal (20).

Freshmen Firepower
Freshmen Anna Jimmerson (five) 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.
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Save The Day
Alyssa Palacios has compiled 98 saves (first C-USA/ninth 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/90th 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 has all 16 matches of the season, playing a total of 1478:06 minutes (second C-USA/31st nation). That has elevated her to 58 starts in as many matches since joining UTEP. The effort has vaulted her into third place on the UTEP career charts for starts by a GK.

Shutout City
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.

Big Win
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.

Working Overtime
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 so far 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.

Close Calls
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 10 of the 16 contests, including four in league play, have been of the one-goal variety.

Youth Served
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 203-118-23 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 (203-118-23). 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 245-164-30. The Miners are under the direction of 17th-year head coach Kevin Cross, who sports a mark of 203-118-23 in that time frame. He is assisted by two former Miners (Heather Clark and Jessie Pettit).

RPI Success
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.
Mark Brunner

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