El Paso, TX — The UTEP soccer team will play host to Conference USA East Division leader Charlotte in its only match of the week at University Field at 7 p.m. MT Friday. All fans who wear orange will receive free admission as part of “Orange Out Night.”
The Miners (9-3-, 2-1-1 C-USA) are riding a three-match unbeaten streak (2-0-1) but they will face a stiff test in welcoming the 49ers (7-4-1, 2-1-1 C-USA) to town. Charlotte has made a seamless transition to C-USA, sitting in a three-way tie for first place in C-USA’s East Division. UTEP owns a share of third place in C-USA’s West Division with an identical mark of 2-1-1 within conference play.
The top five teams from each division will qualify for the 2013 C-USA Women’s Soccer Championships (Nov. 4-10), which makes every game from this point on of the upmost importance. Yet due to this being the only game on the docket this week for UTEP, its focus is completely on the 49ers.
“Charlotte is an excellent program that is in first place on the eastern side of Conference USA with a record the same as ours in conference play,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “Charlotte’s attack is strong and led by Amanda Jones who is the reigning Conference USA Offensive Player of the Week. We will have to play our very best soccer on Friday night to get a good result. I am confident the girls will be ready as they have great character”
With a game of this magnitude, the tremendous support from El Paso can certainly make an impact. And that is a fact that is not lost on Cross.
“Friday night is a huge game for UTEP Soccer since it is our only game this weekend and it one of three remaining home matches,” Cross said. “We need our awesome UTEP Soccer fans to come out and support us making University Field one of the best home fields in the country.”
UTEP features a balanced attack with six different players sporting multiple goals but senior Azia Nicholson has proven to be the leader. She paces the squad in both goals (seven, third C-USA) and points (16, third C-USA) while adding a pair of assists. Fellow classmate Jade Babcock, Angela Cutaia and Aleah Davis are in a three-way tie for second on the team in goals (three), but Babcock has also played a big role through her relentless pressure.
Babcock has piled up 36 shots to pace the team and rate tied for fifth in C-USA. She has also done well in distribution with a team-high four assists (t5th C-USA). Cutaia has been credited with three helpers to secure a share of 10th in the league.
Sarah Dilling has been very sharp in net. Her 0.96 goals against average ranks eighth in C-USA, which has been aided by a quartet of shutouts (t6th C-USA).
Charlotte went 1-0-1 last weekend to continue its solid season. They have been good both at home (5-1-1) and on the road (2-3-0) this year, including a mark of 1-1-0 in hostile territory since starting league action.
The 49ers have a top-heave attack, with Amanda Jones (five goals) and Jessica Ryan (four goals) accounting for almost half of its goals (19 on the year). Maddie Kiebel (two) and Perri Bonner (two) are the only other players with multiple tallies on the year.
Jones has registered a team-leading 30 shots while Kiebel rates second at 26. No other player has more than 15 shots on the season. Kiebel has been the most effective distributor, with a squad-best three helpers.
Charlotte has enjoyed a successful season to date in part because of its ability to make half-time adjustments. The 49ers have been out-scored 7-4 in the first half this year but they sport an amazing +11 advantage (14-3) in the second stanza of contests. Other second half-advantages include corner kicks (34-16) and shots (86-73).
The defense has been equally as impressive, with six shutouts on the year. Alex Kubrick has played nine matches in net, turning away 34 of 41 shots on goal for a save percentage of 82.9 and a goals against average of 0.84. Annika McHenry has also earned time in the goal, coming up with 16 stops on 20 shots faced for an 80.0 save percentage and GAA of 0.94.