POSTED: Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 5:58pm
UPDATED: Thursday, August 2, 2012 - 6:41pm
The UTEP Soccer team shocked everybody in 2011 by advancing to the Conference USA Tournament championship game last season, losing to Memphis in double overtime. The Miners are hoping to capitalize on that momentum with an outstanding 2012, and by winning the Conference USA Tournament, a tournament they are hosting.
"Well we want to get one step further and the way we build on it is the Tournament is here in El Paso and we are very good at home and have a great home record so a huge opportunity to get a chance to play that championship game in El Paso," said Head Coach Kevin Cross. Sophomore GK Sarah Dillings added, "It is awesome. It's going to be a huge opportunity. I'm so excited. We will have so many fans out here. It's going to be a great atmosphere. I'm really excited."
The Miners return eight starters and 12 letterwinners overall from last year’s squad (11-8-4) which made a run to the 2011 C-USA Championship title game while notching the program’s 10th straight winning season. Notable returnees include all-league performers Tess Hall and Azia Nicholson and all-freshman team and tournament member Sarah Dilling.
“We are very excited for the 2012 season,” Cross said. “We play three teams out of the gate that were in the NCAA Tournament last year, which will tell us where we stand early on in the season. We have a huge opportunity with the Conference USA Tournament being played in El Paso this year. We hope to continue being a Conference USA leader in attendance in 2012 as our fans give us such a great boost.”
UTEP’s first four games of the year will come against defending conference champions, including the campaign lidlifter at Utah Valley University (Aug. 17). It went 12-7-3 while claiming the Great West Conference crown, and will return five all-league performers from that squad.
The start date will be the earliest in program history, and it will mark the first time since 2007 that UTEP will kick off the year on the road. It will then challenge 2011 NCAA Championship participant and Western Athletic Conference tournament title victor Utah State (Aug. 19).
The Miners are slated to play nine regular-season home games in 2012, with action at University Field initiating with the Border Shootout. The Miners will face a pair of NCAA Tournament teams, in the form of Southland Conference champion Texas State (Aug. 22) and Patriot League victors Army (Aug. 26). TSU finished at 14-5-1 last year while Army compiled a mark of 12-4-5.