UTEP junior Azia Nicholson has been selected to the preseason women’s soccer All-Conference USA team, it was announced by the league office Tuesday afternoon. Additionally, the Miners were predicted to finish eighth in the regular season in vote by the head coaches in the conference.
“We are very proud of Azia,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “She has earned the respect of the league coaches. She was our team MVP in 2011, and she will now help lead the team to accomplish our season goals.
“The team has been working very hard in training camp, and we are improving every day. We have big goals we want to accomplish, and a challenging schedule ahead of us. We are really looking forward to the opportunity to play at home during the Conference USA Championships. We are very excited for our first game on August 17 and the home opener on August 22 which will include the Alumni Tailgate.”
Nicholson had a breakthrough season in 2011, which earned her a plethora of postseason awards. She was tabbed All-Region (second team) and All C-USA (second team) while also earning Capital One All-District squad (first team) and C-USA All-Academic (first team) accolades.
The Grand Prairie, Texas, native was tied for fifth on the squad in goals (four) and assists (three). Three of her strikes were in league play, including a match winner at Southern Miss (10/2/11).
UTEP returns nine starters and 15 letterwinners overall from last year’s squad (11-8-4) which made a run to the 2011 C-USA Championship title tilt while notching the program’s 10th straight winning season. The Miners’ first four games of the year will come against defending conference champions, including the campaign lidlifter at Utah Valley University (Aug. 17).
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.
Memphis was picked as the league’s preseason favorite. The Lady Tigers’ Christabel Oduro was chosen as the preseason offensive player of the year while UCF’s Marissa Diggs secured the defensive preseason honor.