Women’s soccer wraps up 2017 season

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The UTEP women’s soccer team finishes the 2017 season at 8-11 overall.

Daniel Mendez, Staff Reporter

The UTEP women’s soccer team ended their season with a 2-1 victory over the UTSA Roadrunners on Friday, Oct. 27.

The Miners concluded their season on a high note after dropping five of their previous six contests. The team’s final mark in 2017 was a record 8-11 overall and 4-6 in Conference USA play.

“Obviously, we always contend for a championship and that’s our goal is to win a championship,” senior forward Jeanna Mullens said. “But you know we have a really young team and I think it was  great to have a lot of them get a lot of game experience and play a lot of minutes.”

The young Miners team, lead by head coach Kevin Cross, suited up a total of 27 members. Twelve were freshmen, eight sophomores, three seniors and four juniors. The team looks forward to using that learning experience next season as they hope to contend for a conference championship.

The freshmen came out to play for Cross this season. Anna Jimmerson and Vic Bodhan proved to be top scoring threats for the Miners. Jimmerson scored five goals and Bodhan scored six goals in the season. Combined with senior Kennadie Chaudhary’s four goals, the three accounted for 16 of UTEP’s 27 goals this season.

Bohdan and Jimmerson led the Miners with six goals each, followed by Chaundhary with four and Lauren Crenshaw with three. Cayla Payne, Aylin Villabos and Danielle Carreon each scored two goals. Jackie Soto and April Pate each scored one.

The team as a whole accounted for 69 points. Bodhan led the team with four assists, followed by Crenshaw with three. Payne accounted for two and Villabos, along with Soto, helped the squad out with one assist each.

Bohdan topped the squad in assists–four shots with 47, while 24 of them have been on goal.

Coach Cross joined elite company this season, becoming a member of the 200-win club at UTEP. He got his 200th victory in a 2-1 game against Stephen F. Austin. His combined record is 204-119-23 with a 62.5 win percentage. The only other head coach to gain over 200 wins in athletics is the legendary late basketball coach Don Haskins (719-354).

Despite not playing the last couple games due to an injury, junior goalkeeper Alyssa Palacios compiled 98 saves (first in C-USA/19th in the nation) in 2017. She matched her career high twice in saves this season, 10 against both New Mexico on Aug. 27 and Old Dominion on Oct. 1.

Palacios started the season in fourth place all-time with a total of 341 saves, but has now climbed to second-best all-time this season. She only trails school record holder Amanda Smith, who earned a total of 438 in 1996-99.

Another highlight for Palacios was three shutout performances this season. The mark moved her up to 18 shutouts in her career, which ties her for third all-time in school history for the most shutout performances. 

The Miners’ peak level of greatness this season was a five-game winning streak that followed the season-opening five-game skid, with the first four coming in overtime, a program first.

The losing streak ended with a hard-fought 1-0 win against UAB  on Sept. 22. During the five-game winning streak, the Miners outscored the opposition 16-2, which included three shutout victories.  It was the first time in school history the Miners started at least five games below .500 and managed to get back even.

As this season went on, it showed that the young Miners were ready to compete. Five games were decided in overtime or double overtime.

“You know we learned a lot about the team and it’s sad us seniors are moving on, but I think next year is going to be really great because a lot of these younger players have gotten good experience on the field,” Mullen said.

Another positive was when UTEP burned Division 2 New Mexico Highlands 8-0, on Sept. 13. It marked the largest shutout victory at the school since an 11-0 win against Grambling State in 2006. Additionally, the eight goals tied as the eighth-most in a single game in program history. Seven different Miners scored in the contest.

“We have a great incoming class, so integrating the incoming freshmen is going to be a big part of our success as a team next season,” Mullen said. “Our unity as a team is something we could definitely work on. The teams that do the best come together and are usually like a family, so that’s what we’ve been doing here.”

Follow Daniel Mendez on Twitter @dmendez24.