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UTEP goalie to stand alone in the record books

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UTEP goalie to stand alone in the record books

Daniel Mendez, Sports Editor

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When senior goalkeeper Alyssa Palacios started her first game as a freshman she allowed two goals in defeat, but little did everybody know then that Palacios would leave UTEP with the most shutouts in club history with 21 and counting.

“I actually felt like I had gone to Las Vegas (and) I won the lottery when we got her,” said head soccer coach Kevin Cross.

Palacios started the season in second place in career shutouts, she tied the record against Northern Illinois on Sept. 2, and the record became her sole possession against Florida International University on Sept. 16.

“It’s really cool being able to like leave my mark on the program,” Palacios said.

Palacios the ultimate team player doesn’t take sole responsibility for the record despite having a career total of 392 saves, she is currently behind all-time leader Amanda Smith’s 438.

“My defense helped me a lot I feel like it’s a really cool team thing that we can say that this group this year got to break that record together,” Palacios said.

Palacios teammates share the same sentiment but they also recognize her skill and how great of a person she is.

“Alyssa is probably one of the most caring people that I know,” said senior defender Payton Ross. “I think that’s reflected in the position that she’s picked. I mean, I don’t think I know too many people who would willingly throw themselves in front of a projectile for other people.”

At first, the senior from Carrollton, Texas was nervous as a freshman, having to be thrown into the front of the net when then goalie Keighton Allen sustained an injury for the remainder of the season. As the season progressed, Palacios’ confidence grew, proving that she was able to compete and show her skills finishing the season with six shutouts.

“My goal at first was just proving that I can help, I’m a freshman starting and I feel as time goes on and I got more games under my belt it looked more like a thing that I could see myself doing and so it just got cooler the more games I did the more confident I got that I could contend to break those records,” Palacios said.

In the midst of a recording setting career, Palacios continues to deals with a serious back injury, called rhizotomy, which is a procedure that destroys problematic nerve roots in the spinal cord. She is required to get her nerves burned every six months in order to be able to play pain-free.

“The process itself (is) kind of rough it hurts here, I feel it, but the recovery isn’t much it’s like a week, but then for that six-month period I’m good, I’m pain-free,” Palacios said.

Despite the UTEP soccer team playing subpar, Palacios and company know that with Conference USA play underway, what they did in the non-conference part of the season is behind them. They can start new and focus on the fresh start.

“We’re focusing now, starting fresh conference has started now and these are the games that matter,” Palacios said. “So we’re kind of letting go of, you know, things that happened non-conference and we’re focusing on the fresh start.”

Palacios not only gets it done on the pitch but she does it in the classroom as well. For the last three years she has been on C-USA Commissioner’s Honor Roll (2016-18) Palacios credits the training room not only for her on-field success but her academic success as well.

“It’s definitely hard, time managing is the big thing,” Palacios said. “My homework’s with me in the training room. I live in the training room, so during treatments and stuff, I’m reading my chapters and its just a lot about time managing your stuff.”

Palacios is earning her degree in Kinesiology next December—she originally thought she was going to pursue physical therapy with her degree—but now Palacios sees herself coaching in the future. She envisions herself coaching the same position she plays, sharing what she knows on the pitch with future players.

“Even picking my major with my career in mind, I just want to stay around sports,” Palacios said. “I want to stay around soccer. I feel like I’d be a good goalie coach. I’m really confident in that kind of thing of what I do. I think I could relate well and teach what I know.”

Daniel Mendez may be reached at theprospector1@gmail.com

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UTEP goalie to stand alone in the record books