Texas native Kevin Cross is synonymous with UTEP soccer. He has been involved with Miner soccer since 1997-the program's second year of existence-, serving as a top assistant before replacing former head coach Veronica O'Brien in 2001.
He is 40th nationally for winningest active coaches in NCAA Division I soccer as rated by percentage (.638). Cross enters the 2015 season with an overall record of 173-94-19.
Aiding that mark have been 13 straight seasons with at least 10 victories, something achieved once in the program's first six years.
UTEP has piled up 170 wins to rate 25th in country since the start of the 2002 season, with a prolific offense that has produced the 14th-most goals (603) playing an important role.
He has built the program into one of the most consistent programs in Conference USA. The Miners have the second-most wins (130) among all league programs since joining C-USA in 2005. Overall UTEP has finished fourth or better 10 times during Cross's career, including six top-three showings.
The Miners have played in three conference tournament title games under Cross while making one appearance in the NCAA Tournament (2005). UTEP used a come-from-behind 3-2 overtime victory against host and Big 12 power Texas to advance to the second round.
UTEP has produced a top-100 RPI in five of the six past seasons and 10 times total under Cross, including a program-best 31 in 2005. Additionally, the Miners have secured a spot in the NSCAA Central Region top-10 poll in 10 of the past 11 seasons.
Team success has translated into individual accolades during the Cross era. Twenty of the 22 All-Region honors in school history have been during his tenure. There have been 37 All-Conference team recipients, which is boosted by seven separate campaigns with at least three selections. The Miners have reaped 56 athletic weekly honors (38 league and 18 national) under his leadership. His players have filled up the UTEP record books, with the career leaders for assists (Kelly Parker), game-winning assists (Kia Sams), game-winning goals (Jami Tullius), games played (Kristin Wernimont), games started (Ashleigh Decker), goals (Tullius), minutes played (Azia Nicholson), multi-assist games (Kelly Parker), multi-goal games (Tameka Sumter), shots (Tullius) and shots on goal (Tullius) having been mentored by Cross.
He has impacted the game beyond the college level, with several players having achieved notoriety. Parker, who also served as an assistant coach under Cross, was a star in the Women's Professional Soccer league while also playing for the Canadian National Team.
Parker competed at the 2011 Women's World Cup and the 2012 Summer Olympics. Additionally, former Miner Anoop Josan competed with Team Canada at the U-20 FIFA Women's World Cup in 2008.
His enthusiasm and passion for UTEP has helped him build a loyal fan base, which has made University Field one of the toughest places to play at in the country. The Miners have forged a mark of 107-22-8 since 2002.
The Orange and Blue's play has attracted El Pasoans to the venue in a big way. A C-USA best 58,938 fans have passed through the turnstiles at University Field since 2005, with UTEP pacing the league five times in that timeframe.
Overall the Miners have registered seasonal averages of better than 400 in 12 years of Cross's career, including nine with a readout surpassing 500.
UTEP has also thrived in the classroom under Cross's direction. There have been four Academic All-Americans, 16 Academic All-District honorees and 15 Academic All-Conference team members. A total of 266 individuals have secured a spot on the annual conference academic honor roll while the program has garnered a team GPA award from the NSCAA the past five years.
It was an exciting 2014 season for UTEP, which caught fire down the stretch by going undefeated (5-0-3) over the final eight contests of the campaign. The hot streak helped the Miners hit the 12-win plateau for a second straight season and secure third place in C-USA for the second time in as many years. It was also one for the record books, with UTEP setting school records for fewest goals allowed (15), goals against average (0.67) and overtime games played (10).
Four Miners (Hannah Asuchak, Angela Cutaia, Aleah Davis and Sarah Dilling) secured All C-USA honorees, with a school-record three (Asuchak, Davis and Dilling) landing on the first team, while Sydney Rapp was an All-Freshman honoree. Asuchak and Davis were also tabbed to the All-Region squad.
UTEP went 12-6-3, including 5-3-2 within C-USA play, to pile up 17 points and finish third out of 16 teams in the revamped league during the 2013 season.
Nicholson (first team), Jade Babcock (second team) and Davis and Tori Martyn (third team) earned All-League honors. Davis landed on the All-Freshman team too. Martin, Davis and Nicholson also took home All-Region notice.
It was a roller coaster 2012 season. The Miners got off to a 7-2 start before the loss of five key players to injuries and some tough breaks on the road impacted the season. UTEP managed to garner placement in the NSCAA Central Region Poll for a ninth straight year. Nicholson (second team) and Tess Hall and Martyn (third team) were All-Conference honorees, with Nicholson also meriting All-Region accolades.
UTEP battled through some injuries and close calls during the 2011 campaign, but it put things together when it mattered most down the stretch. The Miners earned runner-up honors at the 2011 Conference USA Championships. UTEP pushed No. 4/6 host and unbeaten Memphis to the brink before being edged out on a golden goal in the second overtime session.
Dilling, Katie Dorman and Brittany Kindzierski became the first players since 2007 to be All-Tournament team honorees. Nicholson (second team), Hall and Martyn (third team) were selected to the All-League squad and Dilling was an All-Freshman team member. Nicholson secured the first of three straight All-Region recognition.
A high-flying attack which allowed UTEP to lead the nation in scoring for most of the season set the tone for another successful season in 2010. The Miners (11-8-0) climbed to as high as 29th nationally in the TopDrawerSoccer.Com ratings, were regionally ranked for the seventh straight year and defeated a top-25 program in the form of Memphis, 2-1, on Sept. 26.
Dorman was tabbed to the All C-USA third team and Nicholson was an All-Freshman honoree.
In 2009 UTEP registered a mark of 13-6-1, which was helped by becoming the second team in school history (2006) to post two separate winning streaks of at least four contests.
Some matches stood out more than others. In the inaugural battle of I-10, UTEP downed NM State, 1-0, in front of a school-record 1,610 fans at University Field on Aug. 21. The Miners showed their prowess in league play by besting two-time defending C-USA champion Memphis, 3-2, on the road on Oct. 2. UTEP posted a convincing 2-0 triumph against long-time rival SMU on Sept. 27, and it was one of six teams to qualify for the reduced field at the C-USA Championships.
A then school-record three players (Chelsea Winbush-first team, Sumter-second team and Skye Schultz-third team) were named All-Region performers. No other program in the region had more than two players on the list. League honors also poured in, with a quartet of Miners (Sumter and Winbush, first team, Jo Radcliffe third team and Schultz, Freshman of the Year) being recognized.
In 2008 UTEP showed tremendous character in overcoming an inordinate amount of injuries through the year to finish with a final mark of 13-7-1. Eighteen different players, the most since Cross's first year on the job in 2001, started at least one match. The Miners were fashioned a record of 5-2-1 to close out the regular season in style. Back-to-back wins against regionally-rated opposition (No. 13 Rice on Oct. 26 and No. 8 Colorado College on Oct. 31) were included in the stretch. Another notable triumph on the year was the Miners downing Big 12 member Baylor, 1-0, in front of a then school-record 1,426 fans in the season opener on Aug. 22.
Sumter (first team) and Winbush (second team) were All-League honorees. Sumter also was an All-Region performer.
The Miners took care of business early and often throughout the 2007 season, boasting a final record of 13-7-2. UTEP advanced to the semifinals of the C-USA tournament and climbed as high as 10th in the NCAA's Central Region ranking.
Brilliant soccer attracted a then program-best 588 fans on average to home matches. UTEP rewarded the home faithful by going 8-1-2 at University Field, outscoring the opposition by a final count of 25-11.
Taking full advantage of Cross's offensive system, Tullius became the first player in school history to secure the C-USA Offensive Player of the Year. The native of El Paso led the lead in goals and points, and to this day remains the school record holder in those categories.
UTEP went 15-6 in 2006, setting school records for goals allowed (20), goals against average (0.93) and shutouts (11). Six of those blankings were consecutive, which also established a school standard.
The Orange and Blue defeated No. 17 Rice, 1-0, in front of a then school-record 1,106 fans on Oct. 8. The match was carried live nationally on College Sports Television, which was the first of its kind from the Sun City. UTEP blanked No. 25 Colorado College on Oct. 22, delivering its program-best second victory against a ranked foe on the year.
Individuals continued to be noticed for their play, as five different players combined to reel in a program-best-tying six league player of the week accolades, including sweeping the award two straight weekends. Nationally, four different Miners were placed on national teams of the week a school-record eight times.
Josan was an All-Region, All-Conference and All-Freshman honoree. She was joined on the All-Freshman squad by Sumter.
The 2005 campaign was a season for the ages. The Miners set the tone with a 15-match (14-0-1) unbeaten streak out of the gates, on the way to finishing at a then C-USA best 20-4-1.
UTEP received an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament, and made its first appearance a memorable one. The Miners posted a thrilling come-from-behind 3-2 overtime road victory against Texas to punch their ticket to the second round. Tullius scored twice in the final 10 minutes to force overtime, and Leslie Platz buried the golden goal at 94:37. UTEP bowed out to #6 California, 2-1, in the second round.
The Orange and Blue, who earned the highest national ranking (31st) of any C-USA member institution, continued to thrive in all facets of the game, ranking 10th nationally in scoring offense, while registering a then program-best tying eight shutouts.
Brittany Popoff, Kaletia Roberts and Tullius (second team) were All-League honorees. Tullius also earned All-Region mention.
In 2004, the Miners won 13 games - including a 3-2 triumph over 20th-ranked SMU - and finished second in the WAC at 5-2-1. UTEP also ranked 28th nationally in scoring and spent much of the campaign among the SoccerBuzz.com Central Region top 10. Amber Mack and Roberts (second team) secured All-League recognition.
In 2003, Cross's squad racked up an 11-8 record and advanced to the semifinals of the WAC Tournament. Christine McCartney and Roberts (second team) earned All-WAC accolades. The squad was also a recipient of the NSCAA/adidas Women's College Team Academic Award.
The following spring, April 2004, Cross's team faced the Mexican national team in an exhibition match in front of 5,400 fans at Dudley Field in El Paso.
In 2002, Cross led UTEP to a magical season. His Miners finished the year 16-3. For his coaching efforts Cross was named the WAC Coach of the Year and the Central Region Coach of the Year by SoccerBuzz.com. UTEP snared runner-up honors in the WAC and ranked in the top 10 in the Central Region by SoccerBuzz.com throughout the year. Cross's unit led the NCAA in goals per match (4.42 gpm) and total goals (84), while its .842 winning percentage was eighth best in the country.
UTEP's 16-3 record was the fourth-best turnaround in NCAA soccer history. Cross mentored three of the top individual scorers in the NCAA and the top-three single-season point scorers in program history. Cohen was fourth in points per match (2.83) and sixth in goals per match (1.22). Parker led the NCAA with 1.00 assists per match and was tied for 13th in points per match (2.16). Miranda Cuthbertson was seventh in points (2.53 ppm) and eighth in goals (1.05 gpm).
Cross's team set program single-campaign records for goals (84), assists (73), points (241), fewest goals allowed (21) and lowest goals against average (1.09).
In addition to his own postseason honors, Cross coached a single-season school record five All-WAC selections, including first teamers Parker and Cohen. He had four players selected to the WAC All-Tournament team, with Cohen being named the MVP. Cohen and Parker also secured All-Region awards.
The successful season led to several university awards as well. Parker received the UTEP Female Athlete of the Year Award, Cohen was chosen as the Golden Miner Award winner, and the team was given the Community Service Award for the 2002-03 school year.
His era as head coach began in 2001, as he tutored one of the top offensive players in the WAC in Cohen while landing two on the All-WAC squad.
Cross, the second head coach in school history, was a critical part of the program as an assistant the previous four seasons before becoming the skipper.
Cross helped UTEP to the WAC Mountain Division regular season title during the 1998 campaign by recruiting seven freshmen starters dubbed the "Magnificent Seven" by The El Paso Times.
As the Miners' top assistant, Cross was in charge of handling nearly every aspect of the program. He was an integral part of the recruiting process, both nationally and internationally. He helped mold five first team All-WAC picks, five second team All-WAC selections, one conference player of the year and a freshman All-American.
Cross holds the National Soccer Coaches Association of America National Diploma, a United States Soccer Federation "B" license and was an instructor for the South Texas Youth Soccer Association "G" license.
Following his playing career, Cross worked as a member of the Texas A&M men's club staff. While at Texas A&M, he was head coach of the university's club team from 1996-97, leading the unit to the NERSA nationals. He completed his master's degree in business administration in 1997 from Texas A&M.
Additionally, Cross was an assistant girls' soccer coach at Bryan High School in 1997. He was a staff member for the Bobby Moffat Techniques Soccer Camp and Austin College Soccer Camp.
Cross starred as a center fullback for Austin College from 1992 to 1994, playing an important role in the team's success. He helped the squad to second-place NAIA District VIII finishes in three consecutive seasons.
A three-year letter winner for the Kangaroos, Cross was a two-time NAIA Academic All-American and received the Charles "Bo" Miller Award as the school's top student-athlete of the year in 1995. In 1995, he graduated summa cum laude with degrees in business and economics.
Cross began his collegiate career by helping Richland Junior College to an 11th-place finish in the NJCAA during the 1991 season.
A native of Richardson, Texas, Cross was a standout at Berkner High School.
Cross is married to Carrie Cross, the former girls' head soccer coach at Franklin High School in El Paso. Cross and his wife had their first son, Chase, on July 1, 2004. Their daughter, Chelsea, was born on April 19, 2006.