UTEP will play a pair of home games as part of the Third-Annual Border Bash this weekend. The Miners (4-2) will lock up with Weber State (0-4) at 7 p.m. MT Friday before challenging Sam Houston State (2-4-0) at 12 p.m. MT Sunday. Both the Wildcats and Bearkats will face NM State over the weekend, which is co-hosting the event with UTEP.
All fans who wear a sombrero will get in free as part of “Fiesta Night” on Friday. There will be free child ticket with the purchase of an adult ticket as part of “Kids Club Day/Take a Kid To A Game Day” promotion on Sunday. Additionally, fans who wear a soccer jersey, or who carry an umbrella into University Field to stay in the shade, will get in free for Sunday’s match.
"This weekend is huge for us,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We will not win unless we play 90 minutes of focused soccer. These two teams are very hard working and will make us earn everything. We want El Paso to come out and support us in these two crucial matches as our crowd really gives us a huge boost."
The Miners, who received votes in the most-recent NSCAA Central Region Poll, are off to a quality start despite having played only two home matches thus far. UTEP is one of three schools in Conference USA to boast at least four wins on the campaign. It ranks second in the league in assists (15), shots (103) and third in goals per game (2.17).
Senior MF Tess Hall has been locked in, rating first in the conference in points (13) while sharing the top spot for goals (five) and assists (three). Azia Nicholson (three goals-t4th C-USA) and Jade Babcock (two goals-t10th C-USA) have also been prolific at finding the back of the net.
There have been plenty of playmakers, evidenced by UTEP being the lone school in C-USA to have five individuals with at least two assists. Babcock, Hall and Skye Schulz have each dished out a trio of helpers to share first place in the conference while Nicholson and Tori Martyn have both contributed a pair.
Sophomore GK Sarah Dilling has played in every minute of every match, registering 20 saves (t3rd C-USA) to set the tone for the defense. Marking has been tight, with the opposition being held to three shots on goal or fewer in half of the games in 2012.
WSU has been on the wrong end of some close calls thus far. It opened up the season with a 3-0 setback at Tulsa (9/7) before dropping three straight matches by the count of 1-0. Including in the string of tight losses was a 1-0 defeat against No. 5 Oklahoma State (9/9).
The Wildcats’ issues on offense aren’t due to a lack of chances (38 shots) but rather an inability to this point of getting those tries on target. Only 12 of their shots have been on goal, compared to the much better ratio of 24 shots on goal in 48 total shots by their opponents thus far.
Ryann Waldman has been busy in net, tallying 18 saves while logging all 360:00 minutes in the net.
The Bearkats split their first four matches but they have dropped consecutive contests since. SHSU was edged, 1-0, against St. Mary’s (8/31) before falling to No. 16 Rutgers, 2-0, (9/2). It plays a defensive style of soccer, with a total of seven goals by both teams during the six games on the season.
Tricia Mallory and Ashley Alonzo have both scored while Kirby Zak and Amanda Biega have contributed an assist.
There has been a rotation in the goal, with Kylie Hambleton (15 saves) and Michele McCullough (22 saves) splitting the time.