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Clutch Cutaia making senior season count

File Photo / The Prospector
Senior forward Angela Cutaia leads the team in goals scored with nine.

Scoring is not very easy in soccer, which is why it is impressive when someone can do it consistently. That is what senior forward and captain Angela Cutaia does for the UTEP women’s soccer team–she produces. If there is a goal, she more than likely is involved—especially if it’s crunch time.

You won’t see much flare from the Burlington, Ontario native, not many crossovers, complicated turns or fancy footwork, but the simple and effective manner with which Cutaia plays the beautiful game is impressive by itself.

“I’m not one of those flashy forwards,” Cutaia said. “I just like to go out there and work hard for my team.”

This weekend, as UTEP soccer faced two of its toughest opponents of the season, senior forward Cutaia did what she has done most of her career as a Miner. On Friday night, playing against Western Kentucky—ranked 70 out of over 300 teams in the national RPI rankings—the ball flew into the penalty box, where around 15 players were fighting to get to it. When the keeper came off her line, looking to control the ball with her hands, she missed and there was Cutaia to take advantage of the mistake. On Sunday afternoon, playing against Marshall, No. 43 in the RPI rankings, she assisted Bri Thomas for the game-tying goal.

“The big thing is she comes up in big moments,” said head coach Kevin Cross. “I don’t think she likes us to call her clutch, but that’s really what she is.”

Known for her quiet demeanor and lead-by-example approach, Cutaia is at the top in almost every one of UTEP’s offensive categories. This year she has nine goals, four of them game winners, 23 shots on goal and has tallied 21 points—all team highs. Her four game-winning goals this season make it 12 for her career, which has her tied for most in program history.

Those are only some of the recent achievements out of the many she has tallied over her decade and a half as an athlete.

Success is something she was accustomed to well before coming to El Paso.

“She’s a winner,” Cross said. “Wins at everything she does.”

A multiple sport athlete, she earned four letters in soccer, basketball and volleyball, and three in badminton, while attending Notre Dame Secondary School. She was a team captain in soccer, volleyball and basketball as a senior, and among her accomplishments while at Notre Dame are three Halton region championships—in both soccer and basketball—all-region honors all three years, Provincial AAAA soccer OFSAA gold medalist in 2009 and bronze in 2011, when she was the soccer MVP.

Her success was not limited to high school. Playing club soccer, Cutaia was a member of the Ontario Cup Champions in 2006, semi-finalists in 2011, a finalist in 2011’s Burlington Heat and she was named the city of Burlington’s Junior Female Athlete of the Year.

She also did gymnastics for 12 years.

All of the multiple sport success could have made it hard to pick one when it came to college, but Cutaia knew what she wanted to play after high school.

“Playing NCAA soccer is always a dream,” Cutaia said. “Seeing my older sister (who plays at Eastern Michigan) go through it, it was just awesome.”

Described by herself as well as others as having improved on a year-to-year basis, Cutaia came into the 2015 season having already led UTEP in goals, shots on goal and points the previous year. But there is always room for improvement. She has already eclipsed last year’s team-leading eight goals and 19 points this season with six games left in the regular season.

Cutaia’s stat line is not the only thing that improved this season. Her already key role in Cross’ team in 2014 became even more important in 2015. With the loss of names like Sarah Dilling, Hannah Asuchak, Mackenzie German and Taylor O’Hare to graduation, the Miners were losing their backbone and a significant amount of experience and leadership.

As one of only two seniors on the squad, a lot of that responsibility fell on Cutaia’s shoulders. Cross named her the team captain for 2015 and wearing the band around her arm every time she steps on the field is something very special for UTEP’s No. 11.

“It means a lot to me,” Cutaia said. “Being named captain this year was really special, but it just motivates me to win and lead my team.”

Winning is the top priority in Cutaia’s mind and she has done it everywhere she has been. Although she has experienced plenty of success wearing the Orange and Blue, there is still plenty to work for.

The Miners’ 8-4-2 record puts them among the top four teams in overall wins this season in Conference USA. With just four games into conference play, the bulk of the season still lies ahead of Cutaia and her team, which has its sights set on a trip to Miami for the Conference USA Tournament and the ultimate prize for any athlete—a championship, which would be the first in program history.

No matter the goal or challenge, you can count on Cutaia to keep leading the Miners quietly, by example, and with more than just goals.

“I hold high standards for myself,” Cutaia said. “I mean, I do want to score a lot of goals, but that just comes with I just want to win.”

Luis Gonzalez may be reached at [email protected].

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Clutch Cutaia making senior season count