UTEP Soccer Hits The Road For Two Matches
Sept. 12, 2013
EL PASO, Texas – The UTEP soccer team will take to the road for the first time on the year with a pair of matches this weekend. The Miners (3-2-1) open up the trip at Houston Baptist (1-4-0) at 6 p.m. MT Friday before squaring off at Texas State (2-3-1) at 12 p.m. MT Sunday.
It will kickoff a sequence of four straight road trips that also will coincide with the conclusion of non-conference play. The games also serve as a tremendous opportunity for the squad to grow.
“UTEP Soccer is faced with the challenge of winning two games on the road now,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “Both of the games are against quality programs. Houston Baptist has been at the top of its conference and has given our Conference USA opponents very good games this season. Texas State is a team that has recently won its conference, and is tough to beat at home. We will need a whole team effort on attack and defense in order to get wins.”
The Miners are coming off a mind-numbing 2-1 overtime setback against Stephen F. Austin on Sept. 8. That match was a back-and-forth battle in that game with a disputed non-call against the home side leading to SFA’s winning strike in OT. While it was a tough outcome, the Orange and Blue are now focused on moving forward with their focus on attaining quality results in hostile territory.
Jade Babcock (three), Azia Nicholson (two) and Angela Cutaia (two) lead the offensive efforts. Nicholson also paces the squad with assists at two. Babcock has registered a team-high 11 shots on goal while Cutaia and Mackenzie German share second at five each.
The Miners have been at their best in the opening stanza, holding a 7-2 advantage in goals in the frame. Overall UTEP’s goal differential is +3 (9-6), and it also enjoys advantages in shots (86-43), shots on goal (40-28) and corner kicks (30-26). Sarah Dilling has been sparkling in net with an 80.0 save percentage and a 0.96 goals against average.
UTEP leads the all-time series with HBU, 3-0, including a 1-0 mark on the road. It has won all of the contests via shutout, including the most-recent match-up, 4-0, in El Paso on Aug. 26, 2011.
The Huskies stand at 1-4-0 (0-1-0 home, 0-3-0 road & 1-0-0 neutral) but they have been competitive in every contest on the campaign. After opening up with four straight losses, all by one goal, they notched a 1-0 victory in a neutral-site match-up against Utah Valley on Sept. 7. It is also noteworthy that three of its four setbacks have been on the road.
Rebekah Tovar paces the attack with two of the three tallies on the year while Natalie Hager has also found the back of the net. Kelsey Missimer has applied plenty of pressure with a team-leading six shots on goal while Tovar ranks second in the category at five. In terms of overall shots, Molly Missimer tops the squad at 11 but only two of her tries have been on target.
An area of struggle on offense for HBU has been corner kicks, with it earning only 10 compared to the 26 taken by the opposition.
The Huskies have compensated for the offensive issues by yielding only six goals on the year. Foes hold significant advantages in both total shots (87-55) and shots on goal (42-26) but HBU has withstood the assault thanks to the play of its goalkeepers.
Stephanie Castellon (27 of 31), Patty Walrath (six of seven) and Shelby Horn (three of four) have combined to turn away 36 of the 42 shots on goal. Castellon has earned the bulk of the playing time with 316:53 minutes of action.
UTEP and Texas State will continue their regional rivalry with the 11th meeting between the programs since 2002. The Miners lead the series, 8-2, but each side has successfully defended its home pitch the past two years. UTEP notched a 3-1 home conquest of TSU on Aug. 22, 2012, while the Bobcats bested the Orange and Blue, 1-0, in overtime in San Marcos on Sept. 4, 2011.
TSU opened up the year at 2-1, including a 3-1 victory at Northwestern State (8/23/13) and a 5-0 home thrashing of Prairie View A&M (8/30/13). The Bobcats are 0-2-1 since, and have been outscored by a combined total of 6-1 during the skid. There were plenty of positives last time out, though, as they battled Rice to a scoreless draw. The overall record of 2-3-1 does not tell the tale for this weekend. TSU has yet to concede a goal at home this year, which has led to a 1-0-1 record in San Marcos.
Lynsey Curry (three), Sydney Curry (two) and Gabbi Cottee (two) have provided seven of the squad’s nine goals on the year. Jourdan Brown and Michelle Bucy round out TSU’s goal scorers for 2013. Six of its nine goals on the year have come in the first half.
The Bobcats have been solid defensively, posting a pair of shutouts while holding two other teams to just one tally. Only Oklahoma (L, 0-4, 9/1/13) and McNeese State (L, 1-2, 9/6/13) have managed multiple strikes in a game.
Natalie Gardini has started all six matches in net, making 25 saves on 33 shots for a .758 save percentage while sporting a goals against mark of 1.36.