Miners ready for last home stand of the season

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Miners ready for last home stand of the season

The Miners are currently in a four-way tie for third place in Conference USA.

The Miners are currently in a four-way tie for third place in Conference USA.

Michaela Roman

The Miners are currently in a four-way tie for third place in Conference USA.

Michaela Roman

Michaela Roman

The Miners are currently in a four-way tie for third place in Conference USA.

Luis Gonzalez, Copy Editor

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The UTEP women’s soccer team has now gone into overtime in six of their last seven games after a win and a tie on the road this weekend against Western Kentucky and Marshall, respectively. The Miners now prepare for their last home stand of the year, beginning with a meeting with UT San Antonio on Oct. 19 at University Field.

In UTEP’s first road game last week, they responded quickly to falling behind on the board, scoring just six minutes after Western Kentucky took the lead. For a second game in a row, a Miner freshman scored her first career goal when Margaret Handley received a ball from midfielder Bri Thomas. Handley chipped it over the keeper and into the net.

The game remained tied through regulation as the teams went back and forth trading goal opportunities–each team recorded five shots on goal on 13 shots for UTEP and 14 for WKU. Just over six minutes into overtime, sophomore Aleah Davis won a ball off a corner kick and headed it in for her third goal of the season and the eighth Miner victory of the season.

“I am so proud of UTEP soccer tonight,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “That was a huge win to rally from one goal down to beat a top C-USA team (Western Kentucky) in overtime in difficult conditions.”

A scoreless tie in Huntington, West Virginia, increased UTEP’s game streak without a loss to three. For a school record fourth-consecutive game, the Miners played into overtime, but unlike the previous game on Oct. 10, the winning goal never came. The Miners were outshot 25-8 throughout the 110 minutes of play, but they created some of the most dangerous opportunities on goal of the game. Senior Mackenzie German and Handley both hit shots off the post during regulation, and in overtime, junior Angela Cutaia beat the Herd’s keeper only to have a defender clear the ball off the line to keep the tie.

The Miners’ struggles in front of goal continued, scoring just four goals in the last eight games, but coach Cross is not really worried.

“It’s kind of streaky with goals. Against these tough teams, they play great defense, there is so much parity in our league,” Cross said. “We would like to get more (goals) and we’ll keep working on that.”

UTEP now returns home for three consecutive home games that start with a clash against the UTSA Roadrunners.

Tied with three other teams for third place in the Conference USA, the Miners have a 3-2-1 conference record, with one win and one loss at home. UTEP has had seven shutouts in the season, second best in the conference, and boasts the third-best average in goals allowed.

UTSA will come to El Paso as the second-worst team in Conference USA, only ahead of the winless Southern Missouri Golden Eagles. The Roadrunners have an overall record of 5-8-1 and three of their five wins, including their lone conference victory, have come on the road. They are stuck in a four-game losing streak, in which they have been outscored 9-1. Their last victory though, came at the expense of one of the teams tied with UTEP in third place, when they trampled Middle Tennessee, 3-0.

The Roadrunners will bring with them sophomore Emma Makela, picked in the preseason as the best goalkeeper in the conference. She earned a spot in last season’s All-Conference Second Team after playing all 19 games and recording 90 saves. The highlight of her season came against the then-ranked number 12 Texas A&M Aggies, where she made 13 saves. 

The Miners will continue to rely on their strong defense as they look to find better luck offensively and clinch a spot in the conference tournament. Being home for three of the final four conference games won’t hurt either.

“The schedule turns in our favor now. We will focus all of our attention on a very good UTSA team,” Cross said. “We hope our awesome fans will come out and cheer us on at home next Sunday.”

Luis Gonzalez may be reached at [email protected]

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