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Crunch time for the Miners

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Crunch time for the Miners

Senior midfielder Aleah Davis and the Miners are in a must-win situation against Southern Miss. on Friday, Oct. 29.

Senior midfielder Aleah Davis and the Miners are in a must-win situation against Southern Miss. on Friday, Oct. 29.

Gaby Velasquez

Senior midfielder Aleah Davis and the Miners are in a must-win situation against Southern Miss. on Friday, Oct. 29.

Gaby Velasquez

Gaby Velasquez

Senior midfielder Aleah Davis and the Miners are in a must-win situation against Southern Miss. on Friday, Oct. 29.

Mike Flores, Staff Reporter

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Every practice, workout session, hours out in the boiling sun and miles run all come down to one game—when UTEP welcomes the Southern Miss Golden Eagles to University Field on Oct. 28.

Last season in 2015, the team dropped the last game of their season and lost a chance at clinching a berth in the Conference USA tournament. This season the script has not changed. The Miners now face the same storyline as their previous year, but hope to turn the tables.

All the Miners had to do to achieve their hopes was to win against Florida Atlantic on Sunday, Oct. 23. However, after the Miners failed, with a home field advantage, they got squashed for their sixth loss of the season 2-0.

The problems the Miners face point to the offense, and more specifically their attacking side.

Out of the 29 goals the team has recorded this season, 19 have come after the halftime break. They rely on their late shots to either win the game or to catch up.

The Miners’ road to the conference tournament got much bleaker after their loss to FAU, and  is not as certain as it once was.

Head coach Kevin Cross said that if his Miners plan on participating in post-season soccer, the last regular season matchup game is the most important one.

“Friday, in reality, is the start of the tournament for us. If you win, you get to play more. If you don’t, your season is over, probably,” Cross said. “Southern Miss is real tough—they beat FAU.”

Florida Atlantic and Southern Miss squared off earlier in October—a game where the Golden Eagles came out and found the net early in the ninth minute of the game, and they never trailed in the matchup. The FAU Owls managed to find themselves tied on the scoreboard after the penalty-kick was successfully hit from Rikke Randrup.

But when the 57th minute had crept up, Stephanie Garcia of Southern Miss was the glorified hero for her school that day as she connected with the net to give her team the 2-1 lead, and a strike that turned out to be the game-winning shot.

Southern Miss did what the Miners could not do all day on Sunday, Oct. 23, and that was get past the Florida Atlantic goalkeeper Sydney Drinkwater.

UTEP will come in with the record of 11-6-2 (4-5 C-USA) and ranked seventh in the Conference USA standings. Southern Miss plans on playing the spoiler role and have been eliminated from post-conference play due to their record of 8-6-2 (2-5-2 C-USA).

Friday will be a night full of emotions, especially for seven seniors who could possibly put on their UTEP jerseys for the last time in their careers. It’s senior night.

“I’ll remind my team of last year, when we lost on our senior night, and how that game didn’t let us in the tournament,” said senior Bri Thomas. “That was a horrible feeling for our seniors, so now being a senior, I don’t want to feel what they felt. I don’t want it all to end on Friday.”

When UTEP has played at home, they have come out victorious six times and have only tasted defeat in three matchups.

“We have everything in our favor playing at home on Friday night. We need all of the UTEP fans to come out and support us,” Cross said.

Southern Miss has struggled on the road all year, going 2-4, and having lost their last four games when they travel.

However, even with a win, UTEP does not control their own destiny. The team will be scoreboard watching all night. UTEP is in contention with Marshall, Old Dominion, UTSA and Florida International to make the cut of the top eight teams in C-USA.

“It would be a huge disappointment to not make the tourney,” Cross said. “We have the talent to beat anybody. When we show up and play our best, no one could beat us.”

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Crunch time for the Miners