(Courtesy: UTEP Athletics)
EL PASO, Texas - The Gibbs Keeton era of UTEP Soccer officially begins this week with a pair of games against Northern Arizona at home (7 p.m. MT Thursday) and at San Diego State (7 p.m. PT/ 8 p.m. MT Sunday).
The Miners tuned up for the regular season with a strong showing by coming back from an early 1-0 deficit to forge a 1-1 tie at perennial Mountain West power New Mexico on Aug. 9.
Senior Emerson Kidd buried a chance on a set piece to knot the game at one in the 65th minute.
UNM had scored three minutes into the contest off a rebound from a saved penalty kick by Tionna Taylor, but the Orange and Blue remained stoic and found the equalizer.
Mina Rodriguez’s potential match winner was denied by Meg Tyssee, and the rebound opportunity was blocked.
Cayman Tamez logged all 110 minutes of action and made her presence felt in every part of the pitch. Overall, UTEP’s netminders combined to make seven saves. Angelina Amparano recorded a team-best three saves, including two sensational stops, while Taylor and Alaina Gilbert both were credited with a pair of saves.
GETTING TO KNOW THE MINERS
UTEP is returning 16 letter winners, including eight starters (Vanessa Cabello, Kaila Hudson, Emerson Kidd, Taya Lopez, Ashley Padilla, Mina Rodriguez, Cayman Tamez and Justice Tillotson.) Rodriguez paced the team in assists (three) and was second in goals (two) and points (seven) in 2022. Kidd is back as one of the captains of the 2023 team. There will also be 11 fresh faces to the 2023 roster (Angelina Amparano, Anissa Chairez, Jayde Gone, Hayden McMillan, Nicole Morales, Ashlyn Neireiter, Olivia Roskos, Ally Stickney, Tionna Taylor, Sophia Tice and Maya Vitoria.)
SCHEDULE QUICK PICKS
The Miners will play a 17-game regular season campaign, with nine home contests. UTEP faces nine non-conference opponents before league play begins at FIU (Sept. 17). Conference USA’s new look includes four new members (Jax State, Liberty, NM State, and Sam Houston) joining the five returning programs (FIU, LA Tech, Middle Tennessee, UTEP, and WKU).
RECORD IN SEASON OPENERS
The Miners hold a 17-8-2 record in season openers.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE
UTEP is 169-68-21 all-time at University Field.
SCOUTING NORTHERN ARIZONA
NAU is coming off a historic season as the only team in program history to win both the Big Sky regular season and tournament championships in the same year. The Lumberjacks went 8-6-6 overall, including 7-1 in conference. They won the Big Sky tournament by knocking off Idaho in penalty kicks (4-3) before falling at No. 1 and eventual national champion UCLA in the first round of the NCAA tournament. NAU is bringing back 22 members of that championship squad while adding six newcomers. Head coach Alan Berrios was named the 2022 Big Sky Coach of the year. They are returning three of four All-Conference players including first-team members Logan Maszton and Maddie Shafer and second-team honoree Trinity Corcoran. Shafer led the Big Sky in goals, points, and game-winners.
SERIES HISTORY WITH THE LUMBERJACKS
The Miners lead the all-time series against the Lumberjacks, 4-1. UTEP claimed the first four matchups before NAU pulled off a 1-0 double-overtime win in El Paso on Sept. 21, 2014.
SCOUTING SAN DIEGO STATE
San Diego State returns to action after a winning season in 2022 that included an unheard-of penalty shootout win (19-18) over Utah in the Mountain West tournament quarters before falling to Wyoming 1-0 in the semis. The Aztecs went 7-6-8 overall and 5-3-3 in conference. Aztec Head Coach Mike Friesen signed a new contract that keeps him in San Diego through 2027. Friesen has the most wins in school history (172) and has led the Aztecs to five NCAA tournaments, including a Sweet 16 appearance in 2012. SDSU is bringing in nine newcomers to join the 17 returners from last year’s squad. They are returning all four All-Conference players in Denise Castro (first team), Emma Gaines-Ramos (first team), Grace Goins (newcomers team), and Kiera Utush (second team). Utush also received Mountain West All-Tournament Team honors alongside Alexa Madueno.
SERIES HISTORY WITH THE AZTECS
This will be the first time in program history that the Miners take on the Aztecs.
Season tickets for 2023 are on sale now for just $35 per seat. Individual game tickets can be purchased for $8 per seat. Fans can call 915-747-UTEP or visit https://protect-us.mimecast.com/s/JPDcCKrvx1Fr3OnGUA9zt3?domain=utepminers.com for more information.