The UTEP soccer team (5-5, 1-0) will play its Conference USA home opener against UAB (6-1-2, 0-0) at 7 p.m. MT Friday. There will be free admission to the contest as part of the “Fiesta Night” promotion.
“UAB is finally coming to El Paso after UTEP traveling to Birmingham for the last five years,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “UAB arrives in El Paso with the number one record in Conference USA. They have an excellent, well coached team, and we will have to be playing our very best soccer to get a positive result. We urge our UTEP Soccer fans to come out and watch as it is a free game!”
Going Back In Time
UTEP notched its fifth consecutive victory while opening up C-USA play in style with a thrilling 1-0 win at Southern Miss on Sept. 17. Kennadie Chaudhary scored a goal off a feed from Lauren Crenshaw with 59 seconds remaining in regulation. Alyssa Palacios recorded six saves, including a stop in a one-vs.-one situation to post her second shutout of 2017.
Series History Vs. UAB
UTEP is 5-4-3 all-time against UAB, including 4-0 when playing in El Paso. The Blazers are riding a three-match unbeaten streak in the series, including a double-overtime victory at home on Sept. 25, 2016, last year. UTEP and UAB haven’t squared off in El Paso since a 3-2 Miner win on Oct. 5, 2012.
Brief Rundown On The Blazers
UAB rolled to a record of 6-1-2 during non-conference play. It is currently riding a five-match unbeaten streak. Overall the Blazers have outscored the opposition by a count of 20-7, with Megan Hudgens (five), Rachel Green (four), Caroline Kehrer and Betsy Ornelas (three) pacing the attack. Amy Brewer has dished out a team-high three assists. Kelsey Daugherty has played every minute of every match in goal, recording four shutouts and being credited with 45 saves.
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 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.
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.
UTEP is riding a five-game winning streak, outscoring the opposition by a count of 16-2 in those five contests. Eleven of the 16 goals have come from freshmen, with four each by Vic Bohdan and Anna Jimmerson, a pair from Cayla Payne and one by Kennadie Chaudhary and April Pate. There have been three shutouts in the stretch with Alyssa Palacios (28) and Dynastee Cain (two) combining to make 30 saves on 32 shots on goal in the five contests.
Turning It Around
After dropping its first five matches, including four in overtime or double overtime, UTEP has turned things around to go 5-0-0 since. The Miners have outscored the opposition by a count of 16-2 in the dominating sequence, which has allowed it to pile up five straight victories. The final four were in non-conference play. That marked the second time in three years that UTEP headed to league play having peeled off at least four consecutive victories. In 2015 the Miners won their final five non-league matches.
Historic Climb Back To .500
For the fifth time in program history UTEP stood at least four games under .500 in a season when it got off to a 0-5-0 start this year. The Miners have showed tremendous resolve, becoming the first team in the situation at UTEP to climb all the way back to .500. UTEP has done so in style, too, winning the past five games by a combined score of 16-2.
Offense Coming Alive
UTEP scored three goals on 22 shots on goal over the first five games of the season, four of which went to overtime. To their credit the Miners have made some adjustments and the offense has come alive in the past 16 contests. UTEP has tallied 16 goals in 41 shots on goal in four contests since. Helping give those numbers a big boost was the 8-0 whitewashing of New Mexico Highlands on Sept. 13.
Defense Is Too
The Miners conceded nine goals (1.80 goals per game) over the first five contests of the year but they have tightened things up since. In the four matches since, all UTEP wins, foes have managed a total of two tallies (0.40 goals per game). In terms of opponents shooting the ball, that is also down from 41 shots on goal over the first five to 32 shots on goal over the last five.
Freshmen Anna Jimmerson (five-fourth C-USA/47th nation) and Vic Bohdan (four-eighth C-USA/101st nation) have accounted for nine of the Miners’ 19 goals on the year. Kennadie Chaudhary has three while Danielle Carreon and Cayla Payne each have two goals to their credit. Bohdan also paces the squad in assists (four-fourth C-USA/51st nation), points (12-fourth C-USA/62nd nation), shots (27) and shots on goal (14). Jimmerson is second on the team for points (10-eighth C-USA/122nd nation) and shots on goal (nine).
Freshmen Anna Jimmerson (five-fourth C-USA/47th nation) and Vic Bohdan (four-eighth C-USA/101st nation) 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 60 saves (first C-USA/sixth nation) in 2017 (6.00 saves/match-second C-USA/34th nation), including a career-high tying 10 stops against New Mexico on Aug. 27. Her career total now stands at 303 saves which pushed her into third place on the Miner charts. The record holder is Amanda Smith (438; 1996-99) while Sarah Dilling (317; 2011-14) occupies second place. Palacios started the year in fourth place, but has since surpassed Brittany Poppoff (270; 2004-07).
Start Her Up
Junior GK Alyssa Palacios has started the first 10 matches of the season, playing a total of 938:06 minutes (first C-USA/fourth nation). That has elevated her to 52 starts in as many matches since joining UTEP. The effort has allowed her to move from fifth place into fourth place on the UTEP career charts. Brittany Popoff (56; 2004-07) sits in third place.
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 already ties 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. Overall there have been seven one-goal outcomes, including last game’s 1-0 UTEP victory at Southern Miss on Sept. 17.
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 202-113-23 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 62.9 percent (202-113-23). 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 244-161-30. The Miners are under the direction of 17th-year head coach Kevin Cross, who sports a mark of 202-113-23 in that time frame. He is assisted by two former Miners (Heather Clark and Jessie Pettit).
In 2017 the Miners hope to continue an unprecedented string of success on the road. Last year they went 5-4 in road matches to extend the school-record streak of a winning road record to four straight seasons. Overall they are a combined 23-14-3 on the road in that stretch, including 2-2 in 2017.
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.