El Paso, TX — The UTEP soccer team will wrap up its home portion of the 2013 schedule with a pair of contests this weekend. The Miners (10-4-3, 3-2-2 C-USA) will play host to UTSA (4-10-2, 3-2-2 C-USA) in their “Senior Night” match-up at 7 p.m. MT Friday while locking up with league-leader Colorado College (11-3-1, 6-0-1 C-USA) at 12 p.m. MT Sunday.
Rudy’s will provide a tailgate with free food before the game on Sunday. Fans can also receive free admission to that contest by wearing pink as part of UTEP’s effort to raise awareness in the battle against breast cancer.
It will also serve as the final home contests for UTEP’s five-member senior class comprising of Jade Babcock, Kenah Linger, Tori Martyn, Azia Nicholson and Gina Soto. The quintet has led the Orange and Blue to a mark of 42-30-7 since arriving on campus, including 10-4-3 this year. They have combined to score 47 goals and register 36 assists while also helping the Miners extend the streak of 10+ victory seasons to 12.
All five seniors have played at least 70 matches in their career, with each starting 30+ games (Babcock-37, Linger 75, Martyn 74, Nicholson-79 & Soto-50). Nicholson has become the program’s record holder for minutes played (6999) while Linger is fourth (6798) and Martyn is seventh (6349).
In addition of the aspirations of sending the seniors out in style, UTEP is aiming to solidify a spot for the C-USA Championships (Nov. 4-10). The top five teams from each division will qualify for the league’s pinnacle event, and there is still plenty to be decided.
Colorado College leads the West Division with 19 points, but after that it becomes very muddled with only three points separating second through sixth place. North Texas, which UTEP will face in its regular-season finale on the road on Oct. 31, holds second place with 13 points while La Tech is third at 12 points.
The Miners and Roadrunners are tied for fourth place (11 points), followed by Tulsa (10 points) and Rice (nine). Southern Miss is out of contention with just a pair of points.
“We have a huge weekend ahead for UTEP Soccer,” head coach Kevin Cross said. “We are excited to have two of our final three games at home. This is the last weekend we will play soccer in El Paso during the 2013 season, so we hope our fans come out to see us compete one last time.
“Friday night is senior night where we honor our five outstanding seniors before our game versus UTSA. UTSA is tied with UTEP for fourth place in Conference USA so this game is a huge one for UTEP Soccer. UTSA is playing great soccer, and just tied the #1 team in Conference USA, Colorado College. On Sunday we get the opportunity to play Colorado College who is an outstanding team. Fans can stop by the FREE Rudy’s tailgate before the game, and cheer us on during this big match. UTEP Soccer is very thankful for El Paso’s support during the 2013 season. We have the best fans, and we look forward to seeing them this weekend!”
The seniors have played a big role for UTEP being in control of its destiny entering the final stages of the 2013 regular season. Nicholson is on track earn all-conference honors for a third straight season. She has been the team’s top offensive performer and rates third in the league in both goals (nine) and points (20).
Babcock has been a difference maker as well. She is one of three Miners to have scored a trio of goals on the campaign, but she has been even more of an impact player with her passing. Babcock has recorded a team-best five assists (t7th) C-USA, which eclipses her prior single-season standard (four) set in 2012. She has also been very aggressive, leading the squad and ranking tied for seventh in C-USA with 41 shots.
Martyn has been a standout in the midfield, with her play in the air helping the Miners maintain possession and control throughout contests. She has logged the fourth-most minutes (1442) of any player on the squad, started 16 of 17 matches and contributed a pair of goals as well.
Soto has appeared in all 17 matches, including 14 starts, and she has been a calming influence on the pitch for the Orange and Blue. She has also scored a goal while playing a total of 1034 minutes.
Linger has done her work on the back line with 13 starts out of 16 total matches played. The Miners’ defense has limited the opposition to 19 goals and a total of 67 shots on goal. UTEP has also registered six shutouts.
UTSA went 1-8-0 in non-conference play, but it was more the result of a brutal schedule than a lack of ability. It had road losses at Baylor, Kentucky, Louisville, Texas and Texas A&M, which contributed to it being out-scored by a count of 18-3 during non-conference play.
The Roadrunners turned things around once C-USA play commenced, with a +2 goal differential (9-7). They have recorded four shutouts in league play while putting themselves in the mix of earning a spot to qualify for the upcoming conference championships.
Overall five different players have scored a pair of goals for UTSA while Taylor Wingerden (three) & Brianna Livecchi (2) have combined for five of the team’s seven assists.
Colorado College has been simply dominant in 2013. It has outscored the opposition by a score of 30-11, including 15-5 in C-USA play. The Tigers are riding a 10-match unbeaten streak (9-0-1). Overall they have recorded 10 shutouts on the year (five non-conference and five conference).
The Tigers are also potent offensively, with Jessie Ayers (eight goals) and Sarah Schweiss (five goals) pacing the attack with 13 of the team’s 30 tallies. Kaelie Vandersluis has been a threat with her passing (nine assists), in addition to Schweiss (four) and Whitehead (four).
Colorado College has also relied upon winning corner kicks at an alarming rate to achieve success. The Tigers have earned 99 corners while conceding only 38, including a 58-18 cushion in the second half.