SAN ANTONIO – The UTSA soccer team (6-6-4, 1-3-3 AAC) wraps up the 2023 home slate on Sunday at Park West, hosting a key American Athletic Conference matchup against South Florida (4-1-2, 8-5-2 AAC). Fresh off a Senior Night draw on Thursday against Florida Atlantic, the Roadrunners are seeking to capture some points in the conference race as the season enters its final stretch. Sunday’s contest will be the program’s annual Pink Out for breast cancer awareness, with kickoff scheduled for 1 p.m. and the game set for broadcast live on ESPN+.
Broadcast and Live Stats
- Sunday’s game will air at 1 p.m. on ESPN+ for subscribers. Karl Shoening (play-by-play) and former Roadrunner Alyssa Blankenship (analyst) will be on the call from Park West.
- UTSA live stats can be found HERE.
Promotions and Special Events
UTSA Athletics invites fans to support three great causes through donations and support on Sunday. Firstly, the game be the annual Pink Out for breast cancer awareness. The Roadrunner players will wear pink warmups and fans are encouraged to join the team in wearing pink to support this important cause. UTSA Athletics Student-Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC) will also be hosting Cantoberfest to collect non-perishable food items for the university’s Roadrunner Pantry/Whatburger Resource Room. Any fans who donate more than five cans to combat food insecurity will receive their own pink UTSA shirt or Tiff’s Treats. Go Public non-profit will also be providing information and donation opportunities to support teachers and children in the San Antonio community. SAAC will be hosting a FREE kids sports clinic beginning at 11 a.m. and there will be a bounce house, cornhole and other fun activities for kids and families.
Catching up with the Roadrunners
With the season winding down, the Roadrunners have scored conference points in each of the past three American Athletic Conference outings, most recently delivering a 0-0 draw on Thursday against the visiting Florida Atlantic Owls on Thursday’s Senior Night. Despite a 19-3 shot advantage in UTSA’s favor, FAU goalkeeper Lexi Gonzalez played an absolutely stellar game, nearly singlehandedly securing the draw with 11 saves. Jordan Walker was tearing up and down the field on breakaways, putting up four shots with two on goal, while freshman Tyler Coker logged three shots with a pair on target. A last-second opportunity for the win sailed high as Olivia Alvarez raced through the FAU line with seven seconds remaining. Despite the draw, UTSA delivered one of its most complete outings of the year – blanking FAU with no shots in the first half on a 71-percent opening-half possession advantage.
Just the week prior, the earned a 1-1 draw at UAB, followed by the first AAC victory via a 2-0 triumph at Temple. Walker accounted for two of the three UTSA goals on the 3,100-mile road trip. Freshman Michelle Polo also scored at Temple in the 84th minute for her first collegiate goal. Across seven games in conference play, UTSA maintains a goals-against-average at 0.43 and is 0.750 overall on the season – ranking 43rd nationally and third in the AAC.
Angling More Honors
For her efforts in Birmingham and Philadelphia last week, Walker was named the AAC Offensive Player of the Week, marking the second Roadrunner to earn top weekly honors this season – after Deja Sandoval was named Defensive Player of the Week following week one. At UAB, Walker scored the game-tying goal on a header in the 63rd minute, leading UTSA to its second AAC draw. At Temple, she pulled the keeper toward her and fired an eighth-minute score into the upper left corner for the game-winning goal, the second of her career – setting the stage for UTSA’s first program AAC win. In addition, rookie goalkeeper Jasmine Kessler notched her first career appearance on the AAC’s Weekly Honor Roll.
Although Walker didn’t score on Thursday, she maintained the same energy from last week, delivering a team-high four shots with two on goal against the Owls.
Coming down to the final regular season games of her five-year career, senior defender Deja Sandoval moved into a tie with her 85th game played for the Roadrunners on Thursday, coming even with 2022 graduate Lexi Bolton (2018-23). One more appearance on Sunday will give her full possession as the most active Roadrunner in program history – with one more game remaining on the regular season schedule next week.
Offense at a Glance
‣ Last week, UTSA snapped a scoreless string dating back to Sept. 10th and scored in consecutive games, notching their first multi-goal game since that same game against Stephen F. Austin – with five draws produced in the interim.
‣ UTSA is averaging 11.9 shots per game and 5.4 shot on target per outing, with a .453 shot on goal percentage. The Roadrunners average 1.13 goals per contest.
‣ Coming off season-high 11 corners against FAU, the Roadrunners are averaging a 71st-best 5.6 corner kicks per game – the second-highest average in the AAC.
‣ Maintaining an attack that comes from all sides, 22 different UTSA players have taken a shot this season (71 percent of the 31-player roster) after Thandie Reinkensmeier added hers to the shot column vs. FAU
‣ 21 individual players have taken an on-target shot and 12 different players have scored a goal this season.
‣ A junior forward from Burleson, Texas, Walker took over the team’s shots lead at 21 and also SOG with 11, sitting in a tie with Northwich, England freshman Sophie Morrin on a team-high three goals apiece.
‣ Pacing the squad in shots most of the season, Sabrina Hillyer has produced 18 shots and has a pair of goals. Hillyer has eight shots on goal (.444 SOG%)
‣ Junior midfielder Olivia Alvarez also has 20 shots and nine shots on target with a .500 shot percentage and .450 SOG percentage.
‣ Junior Jordyn Hyland has a team-leading five assists and ranks 75th nationally and third in The American with a 0.38 assist per game average. For overall assists, Hyland comes in at 114th nationally and fourth in the AAC. UTSA ranks 90th in the nation (3rd AAC) as a team with 24 total assists.
Calming Keeper Presence
Well ahead of the curve for a potential freshman record (Allison McCabe, 1.01, 2007), Jasmine Kessler has 10 starts and a 0.700 goals-against-average to rank 45th in the NCAA and fourth in the AAC. The three-time District 15-6A Goalkeeper of the Year (2020-21, 2021-22) and former football kicker from Klein Collins High School has a 3-4-3 record and has allowed just seven goals in 900 minutes of action.
‣ Kessler has 30 saves and an .811 save percentage, remaining on pace for fourth in the single-season record book.
‣ Kessler ranks 82nd in the NCAA and fifth in The American at 107th nationally in save percentage.
‣ Kessler has four shutouts this season, tying for third in the freshman records and seventh in the UTSA single-season records.
Leading with Defense
The Roadrunners defense has logged seven shutouts this season with six one-score games also on the slate. UTSA is winning the shot differential 190-127 with an 86-61 advantage for on-target attempts, limiting the opposition to 0.75 goals per game.
Support Abundant at Home Sweet Home
With UTSA’s fans delivering yet another phenomenal attendance count (1,206) on Thursday, UTSA now averages an outstanding 875 per game this season. Bringing 6,122 fans to Park West so far this year, UTSA is just 512 fans shy of setting a new single-season attendance record, aiming at the mark set back in 2007 (6,634). The friendly confines have been good to the Roadrunners in recent history. UTSA is 4-2-1 at home in 2023 with a 16-4-5 (.740) record across the past three seasons.
As a new addition to the American Athletic Conference, the Roadrunners haven’t seen the Bulls on the pitch very often in the past, taking up only the third meeting in the series on Sunday. UTSA previously hosted South Florida at Park West in 2019, falling to the Bulls, 0-5. Last season UTSA dropped a 1-0 setback in Tampa, giving USF a 2-0-0 advantage in the series.
Scouting the Bulls
Coming to San Antonio at 8-5-2 (4-1-2 ACC), South Florida is a tight battle for the lead in the AAC East, dropping just a half game back from East Carolina after Thursday’s 1-1 tie at Rice. The Owls’ Sarah Piper pushed Rice in front in the 30th minute on a penalty kick, but the Bulls knotted the score just 34 seconds later on Gentiana Fetaj’s rip from the right corner of the 18-yard box.
Putting up 28 goals this year, the Bulls average 1.87 scores per outing on 15.9 shots per game with an NCAA 71st-ranked .500 shot accuracy. The Bulls rank eighth in the AAC with 1.13 opposing goals allowed per game off 8.7 shots on average.
Former UTSA leading scorer Anna Sutter is topping the squad in Tampa as well, scoring six goals on the season on a team second-most 35 shots, racking a .457 SOG percentage. Junior defender Georgia Brown has five goals on just 14 shots. Fetaj has a pair of goals and leads the team with both 43 shots and six assists. Taking the bulk of USF’s starts in goal, sophomore Leire Herraez Gallach has 10 starts in 13 appearances, tabbing a 6-2-2 record with a 1.05 GAA, 40 saves and a .784 save percentage – registering four shutouts.
UP NEXT: The 2023 regular season finale is on the schedule next week, as UTSA travels to Houston to face Rice in a 6 p.m. Thursday matchup at Holloway Field. The Owls are 3-11-2 and 1-5-1 in the AAC, set to host Florida Atlantic on Sunday at noon.
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