Photo courtesy UTEP Athletics
The UTEP soccer team will christen the Kathryn Balogun era with home match-ups against Wyoming (7 p.m. Thursday) and Abilene Christian (1 p.m. Sunday).
“We are excited to get started with two home games this weekend,” Balogun said. “The team and staff have worked hard this preseason in preparation while learning and growing together. Wyoming always brings a great game, and it will be a great test to start our season. It’s always an outstanding atmosphere at University Field. Thank you to our loyal fans. We are honored to support the healing process here in El Paso with #ElPasoStrong. Our soccer community was directly affected, and we are dedicated to playing our best for our community and fans.”
Thursday’s match-up will be the #ElPasoStrong game, with the Miners wearing #ElPasoStrong shirts in warm-ups. There will also be a moment of silence prior to the contest in remembrance of the victims of the Aug. 3 tragedy.
The #ElPasoStrong initiative will continue on Sunday. There will also be the “Youth Day” promotion for Sunday’s contest, with a post-game autograph session on the docket.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids and may be purchased by calling (915) 747-5234.
Start It up
The Miners are 17-5-1 in season openers since the program’s inception in 1996. Last year UTEP trounced Lubbock Christian, 6-1, on Aug. 17 to start the campaign off on a high note.
Series History Vs. Wyoming
UTEP is 4-1 all time against Wyoming, including a mark of 3-0 at home. The former WAC rivals are locking up for the third time in the past four years. Most recently Wyoming successfully defended its home pitch, 3-1, on Sept. 1, 2017. The Miners and the Cowgirls squared off annually from 1996-98 in the WAC before the nearly 20-year hiatus in the series.
Series History Vs. Abilene Christian
UTEP is facing Abilene Christian for the seventh consecutive campaign, with the ledger squared at 2-2-2. All prior six meetings have been decided by one goal or less, including the Wildcats staking a 1-0 victory last year (8/19/18) in Abilene, Texas.
Quick Overview On Wyoming
Wyoming brought back three starters and 14 letter winners in total from a team that finished 12-4-4 (7-2-2 Mountain West) and earned a share of the MW regular-season crown. The Cowgirls were predicted to finish fifth in the league’s preseason poll. Wyoming tuned up for the regular season by toppling FC Boulder, 4-2, at home on Aug. 17. Four different players found the back of the net for the Cowgirls.
Quick Overview On Abilene Christian
Defending Southland Conference tournament champion Abilene Christian returned 23 letter winners from the squad that competed in the NCAA Tournament and finished with a record of 15-6-1. The Wildcats were picked first in the SLC preseason poll and placed a league-best eight players on the preseason all-league teams, including five on the top squad. ACU routed Texas Southern, 9-0, in an exhibition game on Aug. 18.
The Basic Facts
UTEP is in its 24th season as a program, boasting an all-time record of 254-175-34. The Miners are under the direction of first-year head coach Kathryn Balogun. She is assisted by Stewart Givens and Kate Ward and volunteer assistant coach Michael Balogun.
UTEP has 11 true freshmen on the roster in 2019, its highest total since carrying 14 in 2000. The newcomers comprise nearly half of the squad (11 of 24).
Youth Served In Goal
For the first time since 2008, UTEP will exclusively rely on a freshman goalkeeper. Newcomers Zoey Lopez (Montwood HS) and Emily Parrott (Lone Star HS) both arrived in the Sun City this fall, with the task of replacing four-year starter Alyssa Palacios. It worked out well enough in 2008, with the Miners forging a 13-7-1 record (6-4-1 C-USA) behind the combined efforts of Sara Kaltwasser and Chandra Morden. The duo combined for a .806 save percentage and a goals against average of 1.12.
Stat Leaders Back
UTEP brought back three of its top-four point producers from the 2018 season, including senior Lauren Crenshaw. In 2018 she paced the team in both goals (seven) and points (15), aided by becoming the first Miner to finish perfect (min. three attempts) on penalty kicks (3-3) in a single year.
Also returning are junior Adrianna Jimmerson (four goals-eight points) and 2018 C-USA All-Freshman honoree Jojo Ngongo (three goals, two assists-eight points). Overall the Miners have six starters and 13 letter winners in the fold from last year’s squad (7-8-4, 2-5-3 C-USA).
Getting It Done In League Play
First-year head coach Kathryn Balogun has a history of success in conference action. During her five seasons (2014-18) at the helm of Texas Southern, she compiled a record of 31-13-7 in Southwest Athletic Conference (SWAC) contests. Her squad produced winning marks in SWAC action and advanced to the league tournament in all five seasons.
UTEP Soccer on Social Media
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.