EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – After having their 2020 season moved from the fall to the spring of 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UTEP women’s soccer team is back on the pitch just four months later. The Miners will open its 2021 season by playing Texas Tech in Lubbock.
“We’re excited to play Texas Tech,” UTEP head coach Kathryn Balogun said. “They’re going to come out in a strong 4-4-2 box diamond, something we’re pretty familiar with as we’ve played it before. We’re looking to help ourselves and learn how to play through a really competitive, really high-pressing, high-tempo team.”
The Miners finished last season 3-6-2 (2-3-1 in C-USA), but came up one point short of qualifying for the Conference USA Tournament. This year, Balogun expects the program to take another step forward in the building process.
“We always want to make it to the conference tournament. I think once you get in, you give yourself a great opportunity,” Balogun said. “Within our conference last year, there were seven teams ranked in the Top 50 at one point in the season. At one point, we were one of them. Our conference has really risen in level. To get into the conference tournament get harder and I embrace that.”
Kickoff on Saturday is scheduled for 6 p.m. MT and the match will stream live on ESPN+.
Game Notes (Via: UTEP Athletics)
Start It up
The Miners are 17-6-2 in season openers since the program’s inception in 1996. Thursday’s contest marks the second straight campaign that UTEP is kicking things off with a road match against a power conference opponent. Last year the Miners were clipped, 3-1, at Arizona State on Feb. 4, 2021.
Road Games A Plenty
UTEP will play five of its first six games on the road, including match-ups at power conference members Texas Tech (Aug. 19) and nationally-ranked Texas A&M (Sept. 5). Overall on the year the Miners will have 10 road contests compared to six home tilts, marking the second straight year that UTEP will have more road games than home match-ups during the regular season.
Facing Foes From Power Conferences
For the second straight season, UTEP will have multiple match-ups against teams from power conferences. Last year the Miners had three such games. This year they will have two contests against power five teams, playing at the Big 12’s Texas Tech (Thursday, Aug. 19) and at the SEC’s Texas A&M (Sept. 5).
Quick Rundown On UTEP
UTEP returned 23 letter winners from last year’s team (3-6-2, 2-3-1 C-USA), including nine starters. The Miners also added six newcomers. The Orange and Blue are under the direction of third-year head coach Kathryn Balogun, who sports a mark of 13-13-5 in the Sun City.
The 411 On Texas Tech
Texas Tech was predicted to finish in fourth place in the Big 12 preseason poll. It was 5-6-2 last year but 15-4-3 in 2019, which resulted in its second straight trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Red Raiders return their leading goal scorer Kirsten Davis (four goals, two assists), in addition to Macy Schultz (three goals). Davis is a two-time All-Big 12 first team honoree with 31 career goals. Also back is GK Madison White, who two years ago was the Big 12 Freshman of the Year. Both Davis and White were named to the Preseason All-Big 12 team.
UTEP leads the series with Texas Tech, 5-4, but the two sides have not squared off since 2009. That meeting resulted in a 4-3 win for TTU on Aug. 30, 2009.
UTEP will play host to Abilene Christian in its home opener at 1 p.m. Sunday (Aug. 22). The game is one of two nonconference contests on the schedule, with the Miners also set to square off against NM State in the Battle of I-10 on Sept. 9. Season tickets remain on sale this week for soccer, but single-game and group tickets may also be purchased. For questions and more information, call (915) 747-UTEP, visit UTEPMiners.com/tickets or stop by the Eisenberg Family Ticket Office (Brumbelow Building on UTEP campus, 201 Glory Road) Monday thru Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.