The UTEP soccer team will challenge Texas State in its home opener while kicking off action at the 13th-annual Border Shootout at 7 p.m. at University Field Wednesday. Army (1-1) rounds out the field, facing the Bobcats (1-0) at 7 p.m. Friday and the Miners (1-1) at 11 a.m. Sunday.
Fans are encouraged to attend the UTEP Alumni Association’s pre-game tailgate (5-7 p.m.) in the Helen of Troy parking lot, where select individuals will get free tickets while also having a chance to win some great prizes. Wednesday’s match-up will also feature the camper reunion promotion, where participants of the Miners’ soccer academies can wear their camp shirt and get in free. Parents of the campers may purchase a discounted ticket for just $2. It will be “Hawaiian Day,” for the Sunday tilt, with fans who wear a Hawaiian shirt getting in free.
“I am so thankful for the Alumni Association and Jackie Reed for supporting UTEP soccer and organizing this tailgate,” head coach Kevin Cross said. “The tailgate will be a great way to kick off the home season for soccer and UTEP Athletics.”
The match-ups against Texas State and Army conclude the season-opening stretch of four straight games against defending conference champions. UTEP derailed 2011 Great West winner Utah Valley, 2-1, on the road Aug. 17, before succumbing at 2011 Western Athletic Conference champ Utah State, 2-1, on Aug. 17. Tess Hall, Brittany Kindzierski and Azia Nicholson each scored over the weekend. Skye Schultz registered a pair of assists, with Jade Babcock, Hall and Nicholson also tallying a helper.
In terms of its play at the Border Shootout, UTEP has been very good over the years. The Miners are riding a 13-match unbeaten streak in the event. They are 12-0-1 in the stretch, and have outscored the opposition by a combined tally of 43-7 in those games. The Orange and Blue will need to be sharp to sustain that success given the quality of teams joining it in the event this year.
“We are very excited to host these two conference champions for the Border Shootout,” Cross said. “These games will be great tests for our team, as both squads are excellent. We will have to battle hard for 90 minutes and focus on every detail to come away with wins against these two tough teams.”
Texas State emerged with a 1-0 win at Sam Houston State in its season lid lifter Aug. 19. The Bobcats returned 18 players from a squad that was 14-6-1, won the Southland Conference and competed in the 2011 NCAA Tournament. It is a bit of transition period in terms of leagues for TSU, which will play in the WAC for 2012 before moving to the Sun Belt for the 2013 campaign and beyond.
The Black Knights downed Vermont, 3-1, in their season opener Aug. 17 but were on the other end of a game by the same score in a loss at Providence College Aug. 19. Army brought back 18 letterwinners from last year’s team that was 12-4-5, captured the Patriot League title and took part in the NCAA Tournament.