Photo by Michael Reese

UTEP Soccer to challenge host North Texas At 2019 C-USA Championships

Seventh-seeded UTEP will face second-seeded and host North Texas in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Conference USA Women’s Soccer Championships at 6 p.m. MT Wednesday.

“We are excited to be heading back to the tournament,” UTEP head coach Kathryn Balogun said. “So much credit goes to the team for staying true to the process. We never have control of the outcomes, but they have taken full responsibility for our daily process. The daily process is what has earned them the opportunity to play North Texas.”

The match will be streamed live on ESPN+. It marks the first appearance for the Miners at the league’s pinnacle event since 2016.

“North Texas will be a tough team. They have a lot of experience and success in the tournament. They also are defending their home field and title. However,  all the pressure is on them. No one thought we would be here. We were ranked 13th of 14 in preseason rankings, and even during the season we received no player of the week awards. No one expects this group to be successful, and that is just how we like it. This group thrives as the underdog. You will see a group who will give their all continuing to represent themselves, the program, the school and El Paso,” Balogun added.

Tessa Carlin (82′) scored late in the second half as the UTEP soccer team bested UTSA, 1-0, on “Senior Night” at University Field on November 1st

North Texas leads the series, 6-1, including a mark of 4-0 when playing in Denton. The two squads last squared off in 2017, which was claimed by UNT, 3-1.

North Texas compiled a record of 12-5-1 during the regular season, including 7-2-1 in C-USA action to earn the second seed at the 2019 C-USA Women’s Soccer Championships. UNT finished 9-0 at home, outscoring foes, 24-1, in those contests.

The Mean Green are riding a six-match shutout streak in Denton. Furthermore, North Texas is 24-0-3 at home dating to early in the 2017 season. Its last home setback came to Texas on Aug. 27, 2017. In 2019, UNT has outscored foes, 36-11. Berklee Peters is the top threat with 11 goals (third C-USA/35th NCAA) and two assists for 24 points (third C-USA/67th NCAA). UNT takes 8.7 shots on goal per game (first C-USA/13th NCAA). It also leads the league and is 24th nationally for goals against average (.605).

The past two times (2016 and 2011) that UTEP has been seeded seventh at the C-USA Championships, it has sprung the upset on the second seed. The Miners ousted Rice, 1-0, in 2016, while toppling then league member Colorado College, 2-1, in 2011. In fact in 2011 UTEP advanced to the championship contest.

The Miners capped the regular season with back-to-back victories, propelling it to finish in a three-way tie for sixth place in the C-USA standings. The strong close to the campaign allowed the Miners to qualify for the C-USA Women’s Soccer Championships for the first time since 2016. UTEP is the seventh seed.

UTEP heads into the Conference USA Championships with a mark of 10-6-3, 5-4-1 C-USA. The Miners surpassed their win total for both overall and C-USA contests from a year ago (7-8-4, 2-5-3). UTEP has also secured its first double-digit win total since 2016 (13-7-2).

The club has a chance at its first double-digit win total since 2016, which was also the last time it qualified for the C-USA Championships. It can accomplish both with a victory against UTSA on Friday.

UTEP picked up a crucial 2-0 win at ODU on Oct. 27, which allowed the Miners to conclude this year with a road record of 4-3-2. It marks the first winning road record at the school since 2016 (5-4-2).

The Miners have 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).