Four matches against 2012 NCAA Championship participants and a revamped look to Conference USA highlight the 2013 UTEP soccer schedule, which was unveiled by head coach Kevin Cross Wednesday afternoon.
“UTEP Soccer is excited for the 2013 season,” Cross said. “We have a lot to prove, and are looking forward to the challenge. We have a tough schedule with four NCAA Tournament teams. UTEP Soccer looks forward to hosting the first six games at home at University Field in front of our awesome fans! UTEP Soccer will be ready for the 2013 season with a strong nucleus of players returning and a top recruiting class joining them.”
The first six games of the year will be at University Field, a venue which UTEP is 93-16-5 at since 2002. Action kicks off with the Fourth-Annual Border Bash, with the Miners set to play Utah Valley University (Aug. 23) and the University of Nebraska, Omaha (Aug. 25).
UVU is a program on the rise. After dominating competition in the Great West Conference (won two straight and three of past four league titles), it will now compete as a member of the Western Athletic Conference. UNO will be looking to build on its first year of competition as a member of The Summit League.
The homeswing continues against Utah State (Aug. 30) and Abilene Christian (Sept. 1).
USU has made back-to-back appearances in the NCAA Tournament. It has also won two straight and four of the past five Western Athletic Conference championships. ACU, which has been a powerhouse at the Division II level, has reclassified and will compete in the Southland Conference at DI starting this fall.
Tilts against UC-Riverside (Sept. 6) and Stephen F. Austin (Sept. 8) as part of the 14th-Annual Border Shootout wrap up the six-game homestand out of the gates. The Highlanders finished 7-10-3 in 2012 while the Ladyjacks rolled to a school-record mark of 17-4-0 and an appearance in the 2012 NCAA Tournament. SFA also won the Southland Conference title for the second time in as many years.
Non-conference play will conclude with four straight road contests. The Miners kickoff the stretch in hostile territory against Houston Baptist (Sept. 13) and Texas State (Sept. 15). HBU went 10-7-3 last year, including 5-3-1 at home. TSU compiled a record of 8-12-1 in 2012. It will continue its carousel ride through conferences by playing in the Sun Belt Conference in 2013, its third league in as many seasons.
UTEP will have its chance to improve before C-USA action with games at Northern Arizona (Sept. 20) and Southern Utah (Sept. 22). NAU is a defensive-minded squad that has had 15 matches go to overtime the past two years. SUU was 3-11-2 last year, including a 2-0 defeat at the hands of UTEP in a neutral-site contest.
Conference USA play takes center stage the ensuing week, with a revamped league making it a wide-open race for the title. UTEP opens up with two tilts at home, challenging defending C-USA co regular-season champion Rice (Sept. 27) and Southern Miss (Sept. 29).
The Owls finished 11-7-3 overall in 2012, including 8-2-1 in C-USA play. The Golden Eagles went 4-12-1, 1-9-0 C-USA last year.
UTEP then hits the road to face UAB (Oct. 4) and new league member Florida Atlantic (Oct. 6). The Blazers will be hungry for improvement after a 2-17-0, 1-10-0 C-USA in 2012. FAU, which was 5-13-0 last year, should be markedly better with Patrick Baker being named the head coach in February. Baker is the only women’s soccer coach in NCAA history to take a team to the Division I, II and III postseason tournaments.
Charlotte, which was a charter member of C-USA from 1995 through 2004, returns to the league this fall. The 49ers, 10-8-2 in 2012, will interrupt a stretch of four out of five games on the road by invading El Paso (Oct. 11) the second weekend of October.
Cross’ charges will be back on the road the following weekend, with games against Louisiana Tech (Oct. 18) and Tulsa (Oct. 20). The Techsters were an impressive 12-5-4 in 2012, their final as a member of the WAC. TU enjoyed a solid 2012 season, putting together a 12-6-4 record while earning runner-up honors at the C-USA tournament.
UTEP’s home docket comes to a close following contests against UTSA (Oct. 25) and rival Colorado College (10/27). UTSA was 3-12-2 while competing in the WAC last year. The Tigers finished 14-4-5 last year, including 8-2-1 to share the C-USA regular-season crown with Rice. They also competed in the NCAA tournament, the program’s first bid since the 2006 season.
The regular season will come to a close at North Texas (Oct. 31). The Mean Green cruised to a 16-5-2 record in 2012 and earned a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
The C-USA championships are slated to be played from Nov. 6-10. A site has yet to be determined for the league’s pinnacle event.
2013 UTEP Soccer Schedule
Fourth-Annual Border Bash (El Paso, Texas)
Aug. 23 Friday Utah Valley University University Field 7 p.m.
Aug. 25 Sunday UNO University Field 1 p.m.
Aug. 30 Friday Utah State University Field 7 p.m.
Sept. 1 Sunday Abilene Christian University Field 1 p.m.
14th-Annual Border Shootout (El Paso, Texas)
Sept. 6 Friday UC-Riverside University Field 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 Sunday Stephen F. Austin University Field 12 p.m.
Sept. 13 Friday @Houston Baptist Houston, Texas 6 p.m.
Sept. 15 Sunday @Texas State San Marcos, Texas 12 p.m.
Sept. 20 Friday @Northern Arizona Flagstaff, Ariz. 7 p.m.
Sept. 22 Sunday @Southern Utah Cedar City, Utah 1 p.m.
Sept. 27 Friday Rice* University Field 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 Sunday Southern Miss* University Field 1 p.m.
Oct. 4 Friday @ UAB* Birmingham, Ala. 6 p.m.
Oct. 6 Sunday @ Florida Atlantic* Boca Raton, Fla. 11 a.m.
Oct. 11 Friday Charlotte* University Field 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 Friday @Louisiana Tech* Ruston, La. 6 p.m.
Oct. 20 Sunday @Tulsa* Tulsa, Okla. 1 p.m.
Oct. 25 Friday UTSA* University Field 7 p.m.
Oct. 27 Sunday Colorado College* University Field 1 p.m.
Oct. 31 Thursday @North Texas Denton, Texas 6 p.m.
2013 Conference USA Tournament (TBD)
Nov. 6 Wednesday C-USA Quarterfinals TBD TBD
Nov. 8 Friday C-USA Semifinals TBD TBD
Nov. 10 Sunday C-USA Final TBD TBD