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Stull: UTEP soccer to host C-USA championship - El Paso Inc.: Local Features

Stull: UTEP soccer to host C-USA championship

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Posted: Monday, June 18, 2012 9:30 am

While it may seem hard to believe – considering that the summer is just heating up – we are less than two months away from another UTEP athletic year.

The Miner soccer team will kick off its 17th season at Utah Valley University on Aug. 17.

The Miners put it all together during the stretch run in 2011, earning runner-up honors at the Conference USA Championship while securing their 10th straight winning season.

Head coach Kevin Cross, who has led UTEP to the 22nd-most victories in the country since 2002 with 136 will have plenty of talent at his disposal again this fall.

Eight starters and 15 letter winners return, including a pair of All C-USA honorees in senior MF Tess Hall and junior MF Azia Nicholson, as well as All-Freshman goalkeeper Sarah Dilling.

Six of the seven players who scored at least four goals last year are back: senior F Brittany Kindzierski, nine; Hall, six; sophomore MF Lauren Katada, five; Nicholson, four; sophomore MF Mackenzie German, four; and sophomore F Amanda Pak, four.

The defensive effort will start with Dilling, who paced C-USA and was 21st nationally in saves with 115, after stepping in for injured three-year starter Chandra Morden.

Buoying Dilling will be sophomores Hannah Asuchak and Tayler O’Hayre, and juniors Jade Babcock and Kenah Linger.

There are five newcomers in the mix. Native Texan Aleah Davis is the most heralded of the group, and is expected to immediately push for a starting spot in the midfield.

The most notable aspect of the schedule is the return of the C-USA Championship to El Paso.

The Miners have led C-USA in attendance four times since joining the league in 2005, certainly playing a hand in UTEP playing host to the league’s pinnacle event.

This season is marked by the earliest start date in program history, and UTEP will be kicking off a campaign on the road for the first time since 2007.

The first four matches will come against defending conference champions, and five contests will be versus 2011 NCAA Tournament teams.

The Miners will play nine regular-season matches at University Field. They are 86-14-5 at home since 2002, outscoring their opponents by a combined total of 303-90.

Tourney in 2014

An exciting development this week was the news that the Conference USA men’s and women’s basketball championships will return to El Paso in 2014.

The community did a great job in supporting the 2011 C-USA Tournament, and it will be a wonderful opportunity to once again showcase UTEP and the city of El Paso to a national audience.

Additionally, special congratulations go out to freshman Anthony Rotich of UTEP’s track and field team.

Rotich earned first-team All-America honors in the 3,000m steeplechase after taking sixth place at the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships.

It was an impressive effort for the C-USA champion, who was running just the sixth race at that distance in his career.

As always, thanks for your support. Go, Miners!

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