SAN ANTONIO – Following a brief road stop in Manhattan, Kansas, UTSA soccer (2-1) is back in the friendly confines of the Park West Athletics Complex, returning home to take on Texas State (2-1) in the Battle of I-35 on Sunday. Kickoff between the Bobcats and Roadrunners is slated for broadcast on ESPN+ with a 7 p.m. kickoff.
Broadcast and Live Stats
- Sunday's match will air at 7 p.m. on ESPN+ for subscribers, with Karl Schoening (play-by-play) and former UTSA forward/midfielder Alyssa Blankenship (color analyst) on the call.
- UTSA live stats can be found via GoUTSA.com.
A Promising Start
The Roadrunners dominated the first two contests at home and are aiming to keep that streak intact with the Bobcats visiting Park West. In the opening week, UTSA outshot the opposition 47-3 and outscored foes 7-1. The Roadrunners opened the season with a 5-1 handling of Central Arkansas, pulling scores from five different players. The season's first clean sheet followed with a 2-0 triumph over McNeese.
Thursday's matchup was an absolute battle on the road against a Kansas State team looking to recoup from last year's UTSA victory in San Antonio – also a Wildcats squad that had just held 18th-ranked Northwestern to a 0-0 draw in Evanston. With an opposing offensive barrage UTSA had not seen to date, the Wildcats pounded away in the first half, but UTSA kept the score at nil until the waning minutes of the half – allowing two quick goals in the 39th and 40th minute. Coming out of the break, UTSA assumed the aggressor role, but weren't able to put one in the twine. One Roadrunners goal was nullified early in the second half on a close offsides call, leading to the season's first loss, 2-0.
UTSA's shot differential still sits at a shining 55-22 advantage and seven different players have notched a goal, while six players account for the Roadrunners' assists.
Pacing the UTSA attack, graduate defender Sabrina Hillyer has nine shots on the season, with five on goal for a .556 shot on goal percentage – Hillyer has one goal and one assist to her name in 2023. Next in line, junior defender/midfielder Jordan Walker has eight shots, one goal and a .500 SOG%. Junior midfielder Jordyn Hyland and senior defender Alex Granville tie for the team lead at three assists apiece. Across the roster, UTSA has placed 27-of-55 shots on target for a .491 SOG% as a team.
Senior defender/midfielder Sasjah Dade and graduate forward/midfielder Alissa Stewart were both named to the Preseason American Athletic Conference Watch List. An All-Conference USA third-teamer last season, Dade recorded five goals and three assists on last season's 21 shots (nine on target), logging a 13-point scoring total, including three game-winners. Dade has one goal so far on a header and had one called back at Kansas State. Stewart scored five goals for 10 points in 22 starts last year. She entered the year with 19 points in 41 games. Stewart has a goal and an assist so far in 2023.
Between the pipes, all 270 minutes have been with junior Mia Krusinski in the net and she started her 12th consecutive game at Kansas State, dating back to last season. UTSA's third AAC Preseason watch-lister, Krusinski posted an 8-3-1 record and four shutouts in 11 starts (14 games) last season, recording a .771 save percentage with a team-best 37 saves. She grabbed a career-high 11 saves in the NCAA Tournament match against TCU and recorded 10 saves in the three-game Conference USA Tournament Championship stretch, earning a spot of the All-Tournament Team last November. This season, her biggest test was in Manhattan and she holds a 1.00 GAA, .625 save percentage and picked up four of her five 2023 saves against K-State.
Texas State and UTSA are meeting for the 11th time in the series on Sunday evening. TXST leads 5-3-2, most recently squaring off in 2019 in San Antonio – holding onto an early score for a 1-0 Bobcats win. UTSA's last win was in San Marcos in 2014 via Jenny Trommer's golden goal to give UTSA a 3-2 OT victory. Playing the majority of the decade's matchups on the road, UTSA's last home triumph was in 2010.
Forward From Here
Although the focus is now, it bears repeating that the Roadrunners are coming off one of the best seasons in program history, logging a 12-6-3 overall record with a whopping 7-1-1 (83.3 percent) mark at home. UTSA closed out the year in historic fashion, sweeping through three games at the Conference USA Tournament, defeating Florida Atlantic in overtime, 3-2, for their first conference tournament title since 2010 – earning a spot in the NCAA Tournament, where they battled fifth-seeded TCU to a 3-1 loss in Fort Worth. For their success, the soccer team joined in with fellow C-USA Champions from the football team for a City of San Antonio celebratory boat parade on the River Walk.
The 2023 squad returned 16 from last year's team, including five starters and seven seniors. Though the Roadrunners had to replace 15 players, the latest crop of recruits have already earned opportunities for significant potential impact in the lineup, including Haley Lopez and Sophie Morrin, who both have been among the starting lineup each outing, averaging 83 minutes and 58 minutes, respectively. Grad transfer Maci Geltmeier (45.7 mpg) and freshmen Brittany Holden (37.0 mpg) and Maddie Reynolds (38.0 mpg) have also seen significant time off the bench.
At the helm for the Roadrunners, Derek Pittman has a UTSA record of 41-36-12 (.528), 92-103-30 (.476) overall across stints at three institutions.
Early Regional Appearances
With Tuesday's announcement of the first week rankings by the United Soccer Coaches, UTSA has not only made its earliest appearance in the South Region poll, but have now climbed to a program-best No. 3 in the South, behind only Memphis and North Texas – both conference-mates in The American. Last season's pair of rankings were the first in the program's 18-year history, reaching as high as fifth. After just one week, Kansas State is not yet in the Midwest Region top 10.
UTSA Stat Ranks
In addition to the coaching polls, UTSA has earned some early top-tier rankings on the pitch. Cutting close to new AAC leader North Texas (2.72) with a 2.5 shot differential, UTSA is on top of the league in assists (10) and assists per game, ranking 13th and 14th in the nation, respectively. The Roadrunners also list at second in the AAC in points (24, 34th NCAA) and points per game (8.00, 37th NCAA).
In addition, UTSA comes in at third in the conference in corner kicks per game (7.00, 38th NCAA), goals (7, 47th NCAA), shots per game (18.33, 48th NCAA) and scoring offense (2.33, 51st NCAA)
Individually, Granville and Hyland tie for the conference lead and rank eighth nationally in assists (3) and ninth in assists per game (1.00). Krusinski's time in the net ties for the AAC lead and second in the NCAA at 270 minutes.
Marking the first week competing in the American Athletic Conference, senior defender Deja Sandoval made her stamp in the history books, becoming the first UTSA student-athlete of any sport to receive a weekly conference honor in The American. On Monday, Sandoval was named the first AAC Defensive Player of the Week after spearheading the brick wall of a defensive effort in opening week action. Leaning on Sandoval's leadership, the Roadrunners allowed only a single goal – a successful penalty kick. Sandoval played 179-of-180 minutes in her first two starts of the season and delivered the first goal of the year via a corner kick header against Central Arkansas. She took four shots, three of which were on goal. Joining her in recognition, Hyland was named among the AAC's Weekly Honor Roll.
Scouting the Bobcats
Texas State also opened up 2-0, but saw a tough 3-0 shutout delivered by North Texas. TXST will be making its first road trip of the year, but a mere 55 miles away from campus for the Battle of I-35. The Bobcats maintained a scoreless run with the Mean Green until the 62nd minute on Thursday – despite some close calls for TXST's offense. UNT tacked on two more in the 67th and 84th minutes. The Bobcats put away the identical teams as UTSA in similar fashion last week, topping McNeese, 3-1, and Central Arkansas, 5-1.
Varied in their attack, the Bobcats have seven players boasting goals right now, led by junior forward Zoe Junior with a pair and one assist on five shots (three on goal). She's already halfway to her four-goal total last season across 18 starts a year ago. Also sporting both a goal and an assist through three games are Lily Erb, Lucy Hart, Victoria Meza and Olivia Wright.
The Bobcats have their goalkeepers splitting time, starting a different player in each contest. Junior Katelyn Chrisman is the most tested so far, putting up a career-best eight saves in 90 minutes against UNT. Chrisman had a 1.20 GAA and 57 saves last season. Freshman Caitlyn Draper and senior Beth Agee each have one save on the year.
Overall, the Bobcats lead opponents 51-31 in shot differential with 20 on goal for a .392 SOG% so far. Opponents have come away with 11 saves to date against the TXST offense.
Steve Holeman is in his second season in San Marcos after a very extensive SEC career and six seasons at Lamar. He has a 14-6-2 (.682) TXST record and is 298-213-52 (.575) across his 29-year career.
UP NEXT: The Roadrunners will face a week-long westerly road swing as UTSA heads to Phoenix, Arizona to face Grand Canyon (1-1-1) on August 31 and then Riverside, California for Cal Baptist (2-0) on September 3. UTSA is next at home on September 7 against Texas A&M-Commerce for Military Appreciation Night and Youth Camp Reunion.