Adrianna Jimmerson | photo courtesy Michael Reese
The UTEP soccer team (7-3-3, 2-1-1 C-USA)) will return to the friendly confines of University Field to lock up with WKU (6-4-1, 2-2 C-USA) at 7 p.m. MT Thursday.
“It’s going to be great to get back on our home field,” UTEP head coach Kathryn Balogun said. “We’ve talked about needing to have a positive response and a strong start. We’ve allowed a lot of first goals, and as we go into the last six conference games that trend has to stop.”
It will be the “Kick For The Cure” contest, with all fans who wear pink able to purchase tickets for $3. Otherwise tickets are $5 for adults and $3 for kids, and may be bought by calling (915) 747-5234.
UTEP dug itself a big hole early and could never get on track in an eventual 6-1 loss at Middle Tennessee on Oct. 6. The Miners, who had yielded only 12 goals in 12 games, had their four-match unbeaten streak snapped in the process.
The series with WKU is even at 1-1-1. Last year the Lady Toppers won a wild game, 4-3, in Bowling Green, Ky.
WKU is 6-4-1 on the year, including 2-2 in C-USA play. It has nearly doubled up the opposition, piling up 23 goals while yielding only 12. The Lady Toppers enter Thursday’s match having dropped back-to-back contests, including a 3-0 home setback to Old Dominion (10/6) last time out. WKU is battle tested, with six contests (2-3-1) going to overtime.
Ashley Leonard (six) and Ambere Barnett (five) have accounted for nearly half of the team’s goals. Barnett also paces the unit in assists (five).
UTEP was dealt a 6-1 loss at Middle Tennessee on Oct. 6, but it has proved to be a resilient bunch in 2019. The Miners are 2-0 on the year coming off a loss, winning those games by a combined score of 4-1.
Six league games remain on UTEP’s schedule, but it has already matched its win total for both overall (seven) and C-USA contests (two) from a year ago. The Miners are playing consistently well at both home (4-1-1) and on the road (3-2-2). UTEP sports a +3 goal differential (21-18) while also staking advantages for both shots (173-150) and shots on goal (87-60).
Winning four straight home gamess, the Miners stand at 4-1-1 overall in University Field. UTEP has a +6 (12-6) goal differential in El Paso, including a +7 margin (9-2) during the four-match winning streak.
UTEP has posted a winning mark in nonconference play in 17 of the past 18 years, including finishing 5-2-2 in 2019. The exception during the nearly two-decade run of success came in 2017 (4-5-0).
The Miners have 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). Nine of them have earned playing time, including six who have secured at least one starting nod.
UTEP is in its 24th season as a program, boasting an all-time record of 261-178-37. The Miners (7-3-3) 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.
Looking ahead, the Miners will play host to LA Tech (7 p.m., Oct. 17) in the second of three straight home contests. The homestand will conclude against Southern Miss (12 p.m., Oct. 20).
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.