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EL Paso, TX — The UTEP soccer team will wrap up a season-opening six-game homestand by playing host to the 14th-annual Border Shootout this weekend. The Miners (2-1-1) will lock up with UC-Riverside at 7 p.m. MT Friday before challenging Stephen F. Austin at 1 p.m. MT Sunday.
As part of the celebration of Minerpalooza, admission is free to the match against the Highlanders (1-2-1). To beat the heat on against Ladyjacks (2-1-1) on Sunday, all fans who bring an umbrella will get in free It will also be “Youth Kids Day.”
UTEP, which is co-hosting the tournament with NM State, has been very good at the event over the years. The Miners are riding a 15-match unbeaten streak at the event that dates to 2004. They are 14-0-1 in the stretch, outscoring the competition by a combined count of 49-10 in those contests. The Orange and Blue will need to be sharp to sustain that success given the caliber of foes they face this year.
The Miners fell at UCR, 3-2, in OT last year (9/2/12) while SFA rolled to a school-record mark of 17-4-0 while competing in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. The Ladyjacks also won the Southland Conference crown for the second time in as many years.
“We have a very challenging weekend ahead,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “Both teams beat us the last time we played them. UCR is a tough team with great athleticism and Stephen F. Austin has been receiving votes for the top-25. We need El Paso’s support during this exciting weekend! We are very motivated for this tough challenge.”
UTEP has pushed out of the gates at 2-1-1, showing flashes of brilliance at times. It has dominated foes in terms of both shots (64-29) and shots on goals (31-20), yet the goal differential stands at +2 (6-4). Finishing chances will come with time, especially as the Miners discover what combinations work best on the field.
With the active roster now at 25 (junior F Amanda Pak sustained season-ending injury in the preseason), Cross has been tinkering with the line-up and roles for players as the game situation dictated.
The large roster size has also affected the starting line-up. Only five players (senior Jade Babcock, freshman Alexa Bain, redshirt-freshman Aleah Davis, junior Sarah Dilling and senior Azia Nicholson) have started all four matches on the year.
Seniors Tori Martyn and Gina Soto and juniors Hannah Asuchak, Mackenzie German and Taylor O’Hayre have all started a trio of tilts while sophomore Angela Cutaia (two), senior Kenah Linger (two) and freshman Hannah Nicholson (one) also have starting experience in 2013. Overall there have been 21 Miners to secure playing time, with 18 of them appearing in every tilt.
Cutaia paces the team in goals (two) and points (four) while Babcock (eight) and German (five) have taken the most shots on goal. Dilling has turned away 14 of 17 shots faced in the net, while back-up redshirt-freshman Keighton Allen has conceded one goal on three shots. In Allen’s defense, though, that tally did come on a breakaway.
UTEP has scored five of its six goals in the opening half while the opposition has split its four strikes between the first and second stanzas.
The Miners will be aiming to avenge the aforementioned 3-2 OT setback at UCR during the 2012 season. Also at stake is a chance to even the series ledger at one.
UCR is 1-2-1 on the campaign. It has been outscored by a total of 11-5, but that number is deceiving since it was dealt a 6-0 road loss by Pacific-12 power Arizona on Aug. 30. The other setback on the season was by one goal (3-2, vs. UNLV, 8/23). UCR toppled San Jose State in OT (2-1, 8/25) while battling to a tie against Northern Arizona (1-1, 9/1).
Tatum Lockett leads the offensive attack with a pair of goals while Sammy Arellano, Tyler Cunningham and Celina Valencia have also found the back of the net. Cunningham is extremely aggressive, pacing the team in both shots (14) and shots on goa (6). No other UCR player has more than six total shots while Valencia (five) and Lockett (four) rank second and third, respectively, on the squad with shots on goal.
Elizabeth Silas has started all four matches on the campaign in goal, making 11 saves on 19 total shots.
It will mark the seventh meeting all time between UTEP and SFA. The Miners lead the series, 4-2, but SFA successfully defended its home pitch in the most-recent match-up (1-0, 9/1/11). The Ladyjacks posted shutouts in each of their first three contests while getting out to a 2-0-1 start before falling to Pac-12 standout Arizona State (3-1, 9/1) last time out. Included in the strong start was a 1-0 win at Rice (8/23) and a 1-0 toppling of Texas State (8/25).
Hailey Hunt, Zuri Prince and Chelsea Raymond have accounted for SFA’s goals on the year. Raymond (eight) and Prince (five) also top the team for shots on goals. Melissa Gaudet (three) and Amanda Doyle (two) are the only other players with multiple shots on target.
Morgan Glick has started three of the four matches in net, with 10 saves on 13 shots faced. Lacey Lee has played in two of the four tilts, including a start, and she has yet to yield a goal while being credited with six stops.
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