The Aggie soccer team is back in action today as they host I-10 rival UTEP. The Aggies and Miners have a short but already fairly crazy history. In the inaugural game the Aggies, big-time underdogs playing in their first ever college soccer match, pushed UTEP to overtime down in El Paso. They ended up losing 1-0 on somewhat questionable terms (it appeared that one of UTEP's players knocked then goal keeper Katie Graul out of the way) but it was a loss nonetheless.
Then in the first ever meeting in Las Cruces, the Aggies and Miners went into halftime with UTEP up 1-0 but a torrential downpour (combined with some lightning in the area) caused a massive delay. The game was not restarted and it was not officially recorded in the books. Essentially the teams played one half but officially they didn't play at all.
Last year the Aggies made their second sojourn down to El Paso and this time it was the Aggies' first ever match under now head coach Blair Quinn. The Aggies lost 2-0 this time but they were tied at 0-0 for the first 75 minutes of the game. UTEP scored with the 76th and 82nd minutes to make the score look a little more lopsided than the game actually was.
That brings us to this season. It will be another first for these two teams. The Aggies and Miners will face each other for the first time on true Aggie home turf. The Aggies' home opening weekend was a bit of a disappointment in that they came away with a pair of losses including an overtime loss against Sam Houston State which spoiled the christening of the Aggie Soccer Stadium.
So as we noted on Monday, the Aggies are hoping the third time is the charm. This will be the third time these two teams have faced each other (officially) and it will also be the third match for the Aggies in their new home.
First and foremost the Aggies need to get some offense going. Their defense has played well this season. Prior to Sunday's match in which they conceded four goals, the Aggies had given up just five goals through the first five matches but they had scored just two goals. The Aggie defense will have their hands full keeping UTEP out of the net. On Sunday against the Sam Houston State, the Miners outshot their opponent 21-6 and 10-3 in terms of shots on goal.
Offensively the Aggies need to maintain possession and most of all they need to be dangerous in their attack. This is something Coach Quinn has talked about all season long and it's something that is clearly a work in progress. We'd love nothing more than to see the Aggie offense break out for two or three goals today.
The match is scheduled for a 4:00 p.m. (MDT) kickoff. Streaming video will be available for the match via Aggie Access (subscription required).
Teddy Feinberg of the Las Cruces Sun-News notes that Saturday's game is a pivotal one for both teams.
Bret Bloomquist of the El Paso Times writes that UTEP head coach Mike Price knows that the Miners' redzone trips need to be successful.
Bret Bloomquist also notes that the Miners know the importance of the rivalry locally.
Bret Bloomquist writes that the Miners are focused on fixing their own flaws.
The Sports Network previews Saturday's game and predicts and Aggie victory.
The UTEP athletic website previews today's match.
Jason Groves of the Las Cruces Sun-News notes that the Aggies' defense has been solid so far this season.
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