UTEP Soccer defeated UTSA on Sunday afternoon at University Field by a score of 2-0. With that result the Miners (10-5-2, 4-2-1 C-USA) moved into a 4-way tie for second place in conference play with 13 points.
The following are 5 thoughts I had after this important victory for the Miners.
1. This shutout was important. The 2-0 victory marked a record setting career shutout mark for Miner goalkeeper Sarah Dilling. After the game Dilling was very thankful of the defensive lines in front of her, especially the one this season. I think that a record like this speaks volumes of the head coach Kevin Cross' style of play. Ultimately, a defensively sound soccer team is a winning soccer team. This squad without a doubt is a winning one.
2. Kennadie Chaudhary stood out. The midfielder gave Coach Cross a very sound 46 minutes on Sunday afternoon. She gave the UTEP midfield calm and poise. She was quick on the attack and her passes were very accurate. Another young player to keep an eye on for this UTEP soccer team. No doubt.
3. The defensive line makes it look it easy. O'Hayre, Nicholson, Asuchak, Bain improve with every game and what I noticed on Sunday is the way they go about doing it. Well, they make it look particularly easy. O'Hayre and Asuchak especially, they are adding a little flare to their ability. That says a lot about their current form, confidence, learned/acquired skill and ability.
4. Offensive combinations seem endless. While the defensive line is pretty much set in stone for head coach Kevin Cross, not so much for the other two lines. Offensively speaking, the variations available to him are plenty. Bri Thomas started in the midfield on Sunday and ended up as a forward, Lauren Katada comes off the bench and can be a midfield wing on either side, Angela Cutaia runs endlessly and is a factor the entire game. The examples can go on and on, any player that Cross calls upon is ready to go. This gives this team as a whole a lot of confidence.
5. UTEP Soccer is making the final preparations to make a serious run. With every passing game the Miners improve. I know no one involved with this team will say it, but I hope that every person that is is thinking that this side is more than a legitimate contender for a conference championship and to go well beyond that. There are 3 games left in the regular season (2 at home and 1 at Old Dominion) and what I expect is no less than 7 more points accumulated and fine tuning for the post season.
The next 9 points up for grabs for the UTEP Soccer Team this 2014 season will be contested at University field. While in my opinion acquiring anything less than 7 of those 9 points would be a disappointment I feel that acquiring all 9 points with 3 wins is more than a legitimate possibility for this UTEP side.
Today the Miners will take on UTSA who find themselves currently in a tie for last place in Conference USA acquiring a total of only 3 points on the season.
I expect for Kevin Cross to have UTEP ready to go physically and for their mindset to be correct and not come into the game feeling that that 3 points are in the bag because of the rough season that UTSA is currently having.
The Miners need to stay disciplined and stick to what they do and not fall in the rhythm or style of play of the opposition (this is under my assumption that this UTSA team is not very good, therefore doesn't carryout a very good, sound, competitive style) which can make the game complicated for the team from the Borderland.
The player I will be particularly looking forward to watching today is Bri Thomas. Recently having moved to the Miners defensive line, this sophomore caught my eye the last time I saw UTEP play 2 weeks ago against Rice.
Thomas covered the left sector of the defensive line in a smart and calculated way knowing particularly when to be aggressive. She also gave the team an ability to turn a defensive stop and turn it around into the start of an offensive attack in a quick an relatively easy manner.
Head coach Kevin Cross said regarding Thomas, "She's got tons of character and tons of heart. I'm so proud of her, because she had a tougher year last year but then she came in the spring saying that she would do whatever it takes and she wasn't gonna let me down."
Thomas has definitely lived up to that promise. Being in and out of the starting lineup in the early part of the season as primarily a forward, Thomas has now solidified herself as a considerable asset to this team wherever Cross decides to line her up.
The post game comments made by the United States National Team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann after the 1-1 tie with Honduras earlier this week has started a war of words with MLS boss, commissioner Don Garber.
To sum it up quickly, Klinsmann was critical of the current form that soccer stars Clint Dempsey and Michael Bradley are demonstrating and blamed the fact that they are playing in the MLS and not in Europe as the why this is the reason as to their decrease form.
A day later Garber called a teleconference to pretty much bash and scold Klinsmann for talking bad about the MLS.
As to who is right and who is wrong, well that is a matter of personal opinion (I side with Jurgen 100% on this one). What I love is what Klinsmann said in response to Garber's hissy fit while trying to defend his league.
“It’s great to see that we have debates and public discussions like this because that shows that more and more people care about soccer in this country,” Klinsmann said. “In Europe, in South America and in Mexico we’re all used to this,” Klinsmann said. “It’s part of people’s everyday lives – to have debates about different opinions. It’s just starting now in the United States and I think it’s pretty cool.”
So American soccer fans, get your popcorn and soft drink ready. This is gonna be entertaining.
Here are 5 quick thoughts on UTEP's victory against Rice earlier this afternoon at University Field:
1. Bri Thomas was outstanding as a defender. Without a doubt she was UTEP's standout for all 96 minutes today. She played that left fullback position today perfectly. Oh yeah, it was only her second game on the UTEP defensive line. You could have fooled me.
2. UTEP proved they are a contender in Conference USA. En route to handing Rice their first conference loss this afternoon the Miners demonstrated that they can play with anyone in their conference and beyond. UTEP played a better game than Rice in all sectors of the field today and were deserving of the win.
3. Midfielders Mackenzie German and Nicole Lindsay need to be more consistent. While UTEP as a team was consistent in their performance today over the duration of the game, German and Lindsay seemed to go away from the game or not be factors for streaks at a time. I've noticed this in their recent performances at home. When these two undeniable starters eliminate this tendency the Miners will take their performance to another level.
4. UTEP is better off playing tough competition. Because this Kevin Cross squad is a very good one they are better off playing teams that have a systematic style of play that actually execute it. This prevents them from falling into an ugly style of play as was most recently the case against Northern Arizona 2 weeks ago.
5. Tayler O'Hayre and Hannah Asuchak make playing defense look easy and Angela Cutaia is a factor in all 3 sectors of the pitch. O'Hayre continues to be aggressive and physical when needed in a smart way and always sets this tone from the beginning of every match. Asuchak perfects her craft of being the field general with every passing game. As for Cutaia she is a presence everywhere, no other Miner runs more than her and always does the appropriate thing with the ball in her possession.
NOTE: Please don't forget to read Bill Knight's article on UTEP's victory over Rice in tomorrow's edition of the El Paso Times.
A little more than a couple of hours until it is time for kickoff of UTEP Soccer's 4th conference game in this 2014 soccer season. While I know that all the games in any given season are important. The one today versus the Rice Owls one of vital importance for this UTEP side.
The Miners fell to 1-2 in conference play on Friday night against North Texas on a called penalty kick 3 minutes into overtime. While I was not there for that game, I truly hope that that called penalty was one that the most loyal Miner fan would not be able to question.
This is something I highly doubt.
The UTEP defensive line is too cerebral to generate an obvious penalty kick favoring the other team. If it was close and doubtful and the referee made a decision to go ahead and blow the whistle anyhow, well lets just say I'm glad I was not there because I think even I would have given the ref a piece of my mind and that would be the end of this blogger covering UTEP Soccer.
You just don't call a PK in overtime unless its as obvious as can be.
Coach Cross's squad needs to continue what it is doing. This team has talent to spare in all aspects, and more importantly it has a clear style of play. Something I frankly feel that most teams UTEP plays against dont. With win today against the Owls, the Miners will be at .500 in conference play and solidly in the fight. UTEP just has to continue be faithful to what is does on the pitch and stay the course.
The UTEP Soccer team will have its final contest prior to the start of conference play in a couple of hours against Northern Arizona. UTEP lost on Friday night by a score of 1-0 to UNLV in a match that UTEP dominated statistically and in style of play. This was the first home loss for the Miners this season.
Here's what I expect to see for 90 minutes today against Northern Arizona for the Miners:
-First of all, a confident team. The result from Friday evening should be a thing of the past. UTEP did what it had to and executed, the ball just didn't go in. This side just needs to keep doing what it does well, executing head coach Kevin Cross style of play.
-Quicker exit play on change of possession from goalkeeper Sarah Dilling. Dilling was quick to get the ball back into play on last year, this is something she got better at as the 2013 season progress. In the games I've seen this year at University Field she has gotten away from that just a little.
-More touches from Nicole Lindsay throughout the midfield. The better she is, the better the UTEP team functions. Simply put.
-More involvement from Brianna Thomas and Lauren Katada. Thomas has earned her regularly starting job as a forward for UTEP as a sophomore. Still, I think UTEP would be more of a threat offensively if she asked for the ball more. This would allow more open areas for Mackenzie German down the left side providing the opposition with a real headache. Katada is a spark that comes off the bench and is very wise in moving to the open spot on the field of play, now she needs to demand the ball more. With her skill, she could very easily make things happen.
The UTEP Soccer head into what is undoubtedly the most important match of their non-conference schedule when they take on NMSU at University Field tonight at 7pm. UTEP (1-0-1) played a solid game in their home opener against Texas State. The Miners improved as the match progressed.
Here are the notable points that I observed from the UTEP side:
-O'Hayre, Asuchak, and Dilling continue UTEP's solid defensive ways intact. The UTEP defensive line has always been a strong point when it comes the teams that head coach Kevin Cross produces. These two defenders and goalkeeper will assure that that continues to be the case for their 2014 campaign. They are constantly communicating with the rest of the team, demonstrating to be true field generals.
-Speaking of defensive tactics. The entire team demonstrated "selective aggressiveness" consistently throughout the Texas State game. I look for this to remain throughout the season. A sign of any good soccer team is to know when to be physical against their rivals and more importantly not draw any cards in the process. I expect a lot of this tactic tonight against NMSU.
-Nicole Lindsay was gold in the second half of the UTEP game against Texas State. Lindsay completed ALL of her passes in the that half. I genuinely believe that Lindsay is still a little ahead of her teammates when it comes to breaking to the open space. She passes the ball off quickly, flawlessly and breaks to space in a flash. The rest of team needs to be aware of this. When this happens Lindsay's threat on the opposition will grow exponentially.
-The Miners need to look to Lauren Katada to be a key reference on the field of play when she comes off the bench. Katada very intelligently places herself locations on the pitch where she could easily generate dangerous plays in UTEP's favor. If the ball would get to her.
All in all this UTEP side is has demonstrated that it is full of promise to be more than a legitimate contender in Conference USA.
Less than 8 hours from now the 2014 UTEP Soccer season will kickoff at University Field. There is no doubt that head coach Kevin Cross will have his side ready to go in order to begin this 2014 campaign off to a proper start. The offseason was long, tough, and successful for the Miners. The players on the team learned a lot and it shows.
Everyone on this squad appears to have the proper mindset to make this upcoming season a successful one. Talking with some of the veterans on this team a couple of weeks ago at media day made this more than evident.
Two of the defensive starters for UTEP, Taylor O'Hayre and Hanah Asuchak are going to be the base of the defensive line this year and are more than ready to execute what will be asked of them throughout the upcoming season.
Both O'Hayre and Asuchak are also feeling really comfortable with the new players that have integrated themselves into the team this offseason.
O'Hayre stated, "I still think we're still going to be solid (regarding to the defensive line) we've got some good freshmen coming in that they've really showed their skills so we are not too worried, I think we are going to have a good year."
Asuchak added, "Yeah it's good that Taylor and I have been there in the back for four years, so the leadership is there and our new additions are really joining in well with the team."
The outside defender O'Hayre was also happy with her development over the offseason stating, "I think I've gotten more comfortable attacking, dribbling out of the back and trying to get involved in the attack, so with that I think I can help in both in the offensive and defensive aspects of what this team does."
As for what can be expected from this team as far as style of play, both defenders are crystal clear on Kevin Cross's philosophy and ready to execute it.
O'Hayre stated, "We expect to maintain a lot of possession, a lot of flank play, we like to spread the field and try to get the other team to chase the ball. That is when we play the best, when we get the other team running and wear them out because we are very well conditioned."
Asuchak added, "Yeah playing possesion in the first half definetly helps us in the second half so we can increase the amount of times we go on the attack and get the ball to our finishers."
Attacking has always been UTEP's style, head coach Kevin Cross has no problem making that known, "We like to attack teams, go at them. We attack as a team, defend as a team, and hopefully that puts balls in the back of the net. That has always been our style to go at teams and attack a lot."
Cross went on to commented that he was happy with this week's preparation leading up to the season opener, "The team gave great effort everyday. I didn't have to get on them about their intensity, they practiced at a really high level which is a really good sign for us because I think you practice how you are going to play."
As for the overall season outlook the Miners head coach was candid, "I think a lot of it depends on how we do game to game, we have to stay healthy, we have to play hard and excute details because its details that win games. We have to have strong leadership out on the field, have bounces go your way and ultimately leave it out all on the field."
Sound like a sound recipe for success. There is no doubt that this team has all of the ingredients to make it happen.
Shortly after the historic defeat of Brazil yesterday by score of 7-1 at the hands of Germany the official twitter account of a online porn website posted what just might be the lowest blow of them regarding the disaster. Take a look what they posted...
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