The UTEP soccer team will have a fierce test prior to the start of its 2017 regular season when it plays host to Pacific 12 power Arizona in an exhibition contest with free admission at 1 p.m. MT Sunday.
It marks the first time since 2004 that the Miners will tune up for the campaign by virtue of an exhibition game. Posters and other items will be given away at the gates of University Field.
“We are fortunate to have an exhibition game this year as we have not had that luxury in past years,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “It will give us the opportunity to see what our young players can do before the season starts. We are excited to play Arizona as they are a top team, and they will challenge us. Our UTEP soccer fans will get a chance to see a great game for free!”
Arizona is 43-29-9 since 2013, winning nine games in each season and making two appearances in the NCAA Tournament and one Sweet 16 showing in that timeframe. It is the most successful four-year stretch in the program’s history.
UTEP is coming off a 13-7-2 season-its most wins since 2009- while also making a run to the semifinals of the 2016 Conference USA Championships. There are 13 letter winners in the fold, including six starters, but the Miners have a distinct youthful flavor to the squad in 2017. Of the 27 student-athletes on the roster, 20 are either freshmen (12) or sophomores (eight).
The starters back are Kennadie Chaudhary-Sr., MF, Lauren Crenshaw-So., D, Kori Lewis- So., D, Jeanna Mullen-Sr., F, Alyssa Palacios-Jr., GK and Payton Ross-Jr., D.“
Following the exhibition tilt against the Wildcats, UTEP will begin the season in earnest by venturing to Las Cruces to lock up with NM State (Aug. 18) in the FirstLight Federal Credit Union Battle of I-10. It is the first time since 2012 that UTEP will christen the campaign on the road.
UTEP’s home opener comes against Abilene Christian (Aug. 20) at 1 p.m. It will be the “Camper Reunion” game, with Miner soccer academy members getting in free.
There will also be posters given away, prize packs, autographed gear and mini soccer balls.