The quest for C-USA begins
Published: Tuesday, September 18, 2012
Updated: Friday, May 17, 2013 12:05
Ending their preseason with another win, the 7-2 Miners are proving to be a top contender heading into Conference USA play.
In their last game before conference, the Miners dominated in Aggie territory, beating out NM State 2-1 for the third consecutive time in the annual Battle of the I-10 rivalry Sept.12 in Las Cruces.
“We are really excited to start our season,” head coach Kevin Cross said. “We have been playing good soccer and that is what we work for. Preseason is like a second season for us so we wanted to make sure that our last non-conference games were the best soccer that we have played. Take care of all the little details and finish our non-conference play strong.”
Last season, the Miners secured a spot in the 2011 C-USA championship game after defeating second-seed Colorado College in the quarterfinals and top contender Rice, in the finals.
UTEP faced off against the undefeated Memphis Tigers in the title match. Despite a close game and a double overtime, the Tigers were victorious over the Miners, ending the game 2-1.
“We had a really good run last year so we know what we are capable of,” sophomore midfielder Lauren Katada said. “We came really close last year, so we are ready to win this season the whole way through. We just need to continue to push and come ready to every game.”
Conference ready, UTEP is looking to its experienced players to set up the Miner game on the field, but the true key to this season’s success is the foundation of talent and hard work maintained by all players.
“The team is starting to peak at their best soccer, and we just need to continue to play at our best,” senior midfielder Tess Hall. “We returned a lot of starters from last season so having that experience on the field has been beneficial. But I think what makes us a truly strong competitor is that our depth on the bench is huge. Being able to switch out players and not let our level drop is a great advantage. It allows us to always bring in that extra burst of energy for each game.”
With the 2012 C-USA championship being held at UTEP, the Miners want nothing more than to defend their home field and play in that final game for the title, but they understand that every game will be a battle and that focus as a team is key.
UTEP took a small game break after their win against the Aggies Sept. 12 and the Miners have been concentrating on their daily practices.
They will resume play when they face off against East Carolina on Sept. 21. The match will be their first of four back-to-back away games.
“It all depends on how we play, any one can beat anyone,” Cross said. “The conference is tough so if we play average we are going to lose but if we play our best then we stand a chance of winning. We have to take it one game at a time and just really be mentality tough, have our minds in the game and be really focused.”
Audrey Westcott may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.