The UTEP soccer team (3-9, 1-4 C-USA) will look to build momentum for the stretch run of the regular season when it plays at Middle Tennessee (7-5-1, 3-2 C-USA) at 6 p.m. MT Friday (Oct. 15) and at WKU (9-2, 4-1 C-USA) 12 p.m. MT Sunday (Oct. 17).
“We have a big road weekend against two good programs,” UTEP head coach Kathryn Balogun said.
“The last time we saw Middle Tennessee we had a really poor performance. Peyton (DePriest) continues to do well for them. She’s now the all-time leading goal scorer for C-USA, so her left foot is always a threat. Then we head to WKU, who has had a big year and can punish teams in a lot of different ways. Our character to a challenging year will be continue to be revealed in our response this weekend.”
The contest at WKU is officially going down as a nonconference match.
Still In Striking Distance
UTEP is three points (the equivalent of one league win) into vaulting up to a tie for fourth place in the Conference USA West Division. The Miners are 1-4 in league action entering this weekend, but they still could secure a top-five finish in the division to punch their ticket to the league championship for the second time in three years under head coach Kathryn Balogun. There are officially four games left on the schedule, but Sunday’s (Oct. 17) match-up at WKU is being played as nonconference.
Vanessa Cabello, Emerson Kidd, Molly Sutherland and Cayman Tamez are the only four players on the squad to have started all 12 matches on the season. Kidd (42) and Tamez (22) have earned starting nods every match of their career.
Jojo In The Clutch
Junior Jojo Ngongo has tallied three goals this year, with two of them serving as match winners. That effort rates her fourth for game-winning goals in C-USA.
Ten of UTEP’s 12 games this year have been decided by one goal, with the Miners standing 3-7 in the situation. But despite the challenges, UTEP still has a chance to right the ship by getting for the stretch run.
Palmen Moving Up The Charts
True freshman Luisa Palmen has produced at least five saves in three of the past four games and five times total on the year. Overall, she has been credited with a team-best 45 stops. That figure is currently good enough for ninth among freshmen goalkeepers in the UTEP single-season charts by class.
Luisa Palmen is making 4.5 saves per match. That figure puts her fifth in the league. As a team the Miners are fourth in the category, checking in with 4.8 saves per contest.
Sharing Is Caring
UTEP is sixth in Conference USA with 1.25 assists per game. The Miners have accumulated 15 assists on 10 goals this year. Kam Fisher (three) leads the way, followed by two each from Vic Bohdan, Molly Sutherland and Cayman Tamez. The rankings are indicative of the possession-based style of play that the Miners have deployed on the campaign, with goals coming from a quality string of passes.
Junior Jojo Ngongo (three goals) and senior Jackie Soto (three goals) share the team lead for goals, while Vic Bohdan (two) also has multiple strikes on the season. Kam Fisher (three) tops the team in assists. Bohdan paces the Orange and Blue for shots (19) and shots on goal (eight).
Twenty six different Miners have earned playing time this season, with 14 of them appearing in all 12 matches. There have also been 18 Miners to secure at least one start, with seven starting at least 10 contests.
The 411 On Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee is 7-5-1, 3-2 C-USA, on the year. The Blue Raiders have won back-to-back games, and they produce 1.6 goals per game (fourth C-USA). All-time C-USA career leader for goals Peyton DePriest leads the high-octane offense with nine tallies (first C-USA/23rd nationally) on the year. No one else on the squad has more than two goals. Hannah Suder has started 12 of the 13 games in goal, making 53 saves with a pair of shutouts.
The Series With MT
UTEP is 2-4 against Middle Tennessee. The Miners won two of the first three contests against the Blue Raiders, but MT has bounced back to peel off three straight since. Most recently MT picked up a 6-1 triumph in 2019.
The 411 On WKU
WKU is a sparkling 9-2, 4-1 C-USA, on the season, and at one point was receiving votes for the national poll. The Lady Toppers have been stifling defensively, with a goals against average of 0.53 (first C-USA/16th nationally). They’ve outscored the opposition, 17-6, in their 11 contests. Avery Jacobsen paces the attack with four goals while four others have multiple tallies. Three of Jacobsen’s goals have been gamewinners, which leads C-USA. Alexis Bach has 39 saves and five shutouts to her credit. Overall WKU has allowed one goal or less in 10 of its 11 contests on the season
The Series With WKU
UTEP is 1-2-1 against WKU. The Miners had a win and a tie in their first two meetings, but WKU picked up victories in 2018 and 2019.
Living On The Road
For the second straight season, UTEP will have more road games than home match-ups. Overall this year the Miners will play 10 contests outside of El Paso (nine road, one neutral) compared to six home tilts, marking the second straight year that UTEP will have more road games than home match-ups during the regular season.
Quick Rundown On UTEP
UTEP returned 23 letter winners from last year’s team (3-6-2, 2-3-1 C-USA), including nine starters. The Miners also added six newcomers. The Orange and Blue are under the direction of third-year head coach Kathryn Balogun, who sports a mark of 16-22-5 in the Sun City, including 3-9 this year.