The UTEP soccer team (6-9, 2-4 Conference USA) will play host to Middle Tennessee (6-6, 3-2-0 C-USA) in its annual “Kick For The Cure” game at University Field at 6 p.m. MT Sunday. In an effort to raise awareness in the battle against breast cancer, all fans who wear pink will get in free.
“We are very excited for this week and our annual Pink Out game,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “This game is near and dear to my heart. We will be auctioning off team signed pink game jerseys, and donating the proceeds to the Stand with Estela charity. Middle Tennessee is coming to town as one of the hottest teams right now in Conference USA soccer and has an excellent attack. They are very well coached and will be a big test for us. We are excited to be hosting this game in front of our amazing UTEP Soccer fans that give us such a big boost! We hope our fans come out this Sunday at 6 pm as there are only two home games remaining.”
Special Auction To Fight Breast Cancer
UTEP will auction off team-signed pink game jerseys as part of a silent auction during the game Sunday, and the proceeds are going toward a tremendous cause. All proceeds will go toward the recently-established “Stand With Estela Fund”, which was created with the El Paso Community Foundation.
Longtime KVIA anchor Estela Casas has been diagnosed with breast cancer, and she is asking for the community to stand with her and other women battling the disease. The fund will raise money toward breast cancer research and help El Paso-area woman who are fighting it.
Going Back In Time
UTEP battled hard but dropped a pair of road games against two teams that have both been receiving votes in the national rankings. The Miners were upended at North Texas, 3-1, on Oct. 6 while falling by a score of 2-0 at Rice on Oct. 8.
Series History Vs. Middle Tennessee
UTEP is 2-1 against Middle Tennessee since the Blue Raiders joined Conference USA. The two squads met most recently last year, which resulted in a 4-1 road victory for UTEP on Oct. 16, 2016.
Brief Rundown On The Blue Raiders
Middle Tennessee is 6-6 on the year, including 3-2 within Conference USA play. After starting the year at 0-4, it has won six of the next eight games to climb back to .500 Peyton DePriest is the player to watch, accounting for more than half (nine of 16) of the Blue Raiders’ goals on the year. Sam Debien (two) is the only other individual on the squad with multiple goals.
Amber Hoot tops the team in assists (four). Sydney Chalcraft has played every minute of every match in net, recording a total of 54 saves and a trio of shutouts.
Time To Get Back On Track
UTEP started the year at 0-5, with the first with the first four losses in either overtime or double overtime, but it proved it could handle adversity by winning five straight and six of the next seven games. The time has come for the Orange and Blue to once again dig deep as they’ve dropped three straight hard-fought games. The first opportunity comes Sunday against Middle Tennessee.
Bohdan Scores Again
Freshman Vic Bodhan put away her team-high tying fifth goal of the year in the 3-1 setback at North Texas on Oct. 6. Bohdan took possession of the ball in the box, spun and buried the shot past a diving keeper. She shares the team lead for goals with fellow classmate Anna Jimmerson.
Kennadie Chaudhary is one of three seniors on the squad for the Miners, and she’s making the most of her final go-around with the Orange and Blue. She has scored four goals, which sets a seasonal career high. The most important of those was the game-winning tally with just 59 seconds remaining in regulation at Southern Miss to lift UTEP to a 1-0 triumph in its Conference USA opener on Sept. 17. Making Chaudhary’s offensive exploits even more impressive is the fact her four goals have come on 11 shots on target.
Not Just A Defender
While sophomore Lauren Crenshaw has made her mark on defense in 2017, she’s also used her unique skillset to jump into the attack at the opportune time. A recent example of that came in the match-up against ODU on Oct. 1 when she played a perfect ball to senior Kennadie Chaudhary to set up the Miners’ first goal of the game. Crenshaw ranks second on the team in assists (three). She also has one goal on the year, which came against New Mexico Highlands on Sept. 13.
Freshman Anna Jimmerson (five) freshman Vic Bohdan (five) and senior Kennadie Chaudhary (four) have combined to score 14 of UTEP’s 22 goals on the season. Bohdan also paces the squad in assists (four), points (14), shots (35) and shots on goal (18).
Freshmen Anna Jimmerson (five) and Vic Bohdan (five) 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 97 saves (first C-USA/sixth nation) in 2017 (6.47 saves/match-first C-USA/18th nation), including matching her career high with 10 saves against both New Mexico on Aug. 27 and Old Dominion on Oct. 1. She started the year fourth place on the career Miner charts but with 340 saves has now climbed into second all-time. She has surpassed both Sarah Dilling (317; 2011-14) and Brittany Poppoff (270; 2004-07). The school record holder is Amanda Smith (438; 1996-99).
Up To The Task
Not only has Alyssa Palacios piled up the saves, she has done so at outstanding percentage. In 2017 Palacios is turning away 83.6 percent (fourth C-USA/56th nation) of shots faced, which has allowed her to continue to currently hold the top spot for that category in the Miners’ record books. For her career Palacios has recorded 340 saves while allowing only 63 goals for a percentage of 84.4 percent.
Start Her Up
Junior GK Alyssa Palacios has all 15 matches of the season, playing a total of 1388:06 minutes (second C-USA/10th nation). That has elevated her to 57 starts in as many matches since joining UTEP. The effort has vaulted her into third place on the UTEP career charts for starts by a GK.
With three shutouts this year, junior GK Alyssa Palacios has elevated her career total to 18 which pulls her into a tie for third place on the Miner all-time charts. The effort has also put her within striking distance of program-record holder Sarah Dilling (20;2011-14) and her next shutout will break the tie with Brittany Popoff (2004-07) while also moving her past Amanda Smith (18.5; 1996-99).
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 (9/17/16) 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.
Soto Shines Vs. Charlotte
Freshman Jackie Soto stepped up in a big way against Charlotte on Sept. 29, delivering her first career goal and game-winning goal in the 1-0 victory against the then C-USA league leaders. In the 20th minute she stole the ball and headed up the pitch. She then absolutely rocketed it into upper 90’s country past a helpless Charlotte GK.
UTEP Turned It Around
After dropping its first five matches, including four in overtime or double overtime, UTEP turned it around by winning five straight and six of the next seven games to climb all the way back to .500 on the year on two separate occasions. It marked the first time in program history that a team had been at least five games below .500 and managed to get all the way back to even.
All Good Things Must End
UTEP’s five-game winning streak came to a close with a hard-fought 1-0 loss vs. UAB on Sept. 22. The Miners outscored the opposition, 16-2, during the winning streak, which included three shutout victories.
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.
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. The trend has continued since that point. Overall 10 of the 15 contests, including the first four Conference USA match-ups, were one-goal games.
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 203-117-23 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 62.5 percent (203-117-23). 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 245-163-30. The Miners are under the direction of 17th-year head coach Kevin Cross, who sports a mark of 203-117-23 in that time frame. He is assisted by two former Miners (Heather Clark and Jessie Pettit).
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.