UTEP Soccer Blanks Aggies 5-0 to Start Season

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UTEP Soccer Blanks Aggies 5-0 to Start Season

The UTEP Miners Woman's soccer team played against the NMSU Aggies at the University Field on August 19, 2016.

The UTEP Miners Woman's soccer team played against the NMSU Aggies at the University Field on August 19, 2016.

Gaby Velasquez

The UTEP Miners Woman's soccer team played against the NMSU Aggies at the University Field on August 19, 2016.

Gaby Velasquez

Gaby Velasquez

The UTEP Miners Woman's soccer team played against the NMSU Aggies at the University Field on August 19, 2016.

Jason Green, Reporter

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The UTEP Women’s Soccer team started out slowly on Friday night against the visiting New Mexico State Aggies. Perhaps it was jitters owed to the first game of the season. Or, perhaps it was merely a courtesy to the last of the record breaking 1,724 fans to come through the gate—so that they would not miss any of the action.

Either way, when the Miners got it rolling, there was no stopping them as the team walked away with a 5-0 victory, which marks a 6-0 lead in the I-10 rivalry all-time.

Diminutive forward Gabby Campbell for the Aggies began the night causing problems for the Miner defense. She used her small stature to find holes in the sometimes-porous Miner defense and got off a screaming shot in the ninth minute that forced Miner goalkeeper Alyssa Palacios to punch the rising shot over the bar.

On the night, Palacios would save six shots on goal from the Aggies who were led by last season’s leading scorer – forward Audrey Chavez – with three.

Despite his team’s eventual big win, head coach Kevin Cross applauded the effort of the visiting Aggies.

“They’re a good team, they’re well coached,” said Cross. “They defended well and caused us some confusion in the first half.”

Things had not quite tightened up in the Miner defense – and the stands had not quite filled – when back-to-back corner kicks for UTEP led to the first goal of the night. After a quick one-two at the right side of the box by forward Bri Thomas and defender Carleigh Simmons opened up a great cross goal shot by true freshman midfielder Natalie Valentine, forcing a save – the Miners had their first corner.

A beautiful service into the box off of the foot of Simmons had head coach Cross begging for more which came very soon after as the Aggies put the ball out behind goal. This time the same corner kick from Simmons found the head of last season’s leading scorer Aleah Davis who headed the ball past NMSU goalkeeper Raeann Garcia at 14:30 of the first half.

The Miners appeared to hang on for the rest of the half as the Aggies shot the ball nine times. That is when Cross and staff worked their magic and the team did the rest as soon as time allowed.

Midfielder Bri Barreiro said following the game that the team needed to get back to their style of soccer in order to really pull away.

“At halftime we talked about going at them more. I think we just kind of sat back a bit more in the first half – we were playing it safe a bit more. That’s not our style, that’s not what we play,” Barreiro said. “So, second half we figured it out and we got the goals.”

Less than a minute into the half, Barreiro made sure that her team “got the goals” as she scored on a bouncing ball in the box. Twenty-two minutes later, Thomas got in on the act with a goal of her own. This extended their lead to 3-0 in the Miners’ favor.

After a few shots in the first half just missed for Thomas, she knew that patience was the key in the second half.

“In the first half, I did the hard part and just didn’t finish. But, I kept my head in the game and told myself – you still have time, you still have time,” Thomas said.

Not to be left out, UTEP freshmen midfielders Emily Blaettner and Jodie Enokson both scored on their debuts in the orange and blue.

The team celebrated with each other and the large crowd but will have to quickly ready for their next game on Sunday – at Abilene Christian – which begins at 12 p.m. MT.

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