Vashaun Newman

UTSA travels north to face SMU in AAC action

SAN ANTONIO – The UTSA soccer team (5-5-2, 0-2-1 AAC) heads to Dallas for its second American Athletic Conference road contest of the year, set for a key divisional matchup with SMU (5-3-1, 1-1-1 AAC) on Thursday night at Washburne Soccer and Track Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m., with a live broadcast on ESPN+. 

Broadcast and Live Stats 

  • Thursday night’s game will air at 7 p.m. on ESPN+ for subscribers. Steve Lansdale and John Liddle will be on the call in Dallas. 
  • SMU live stats can be found via HERE. 

Catching up with the Roadrunners
After opening up with a tie at Tulsa to kick off American Athletic Conference play, the Roadrunners are staring down two straight league losses after squaring up for tight finished against the top two teams in the AAC West Division. First came two-time defending champion Memphis (9-1 record), which was one of UTSA’s best outings of the year, putting then-12th-ranked Memphis on the back foot, holding the Tigers to just 11 shots and a single 42nd-minute goal – going against UM’s averages at 20 shots and 3.12 goals per game. Last Thursday at Park West, old rivals North Texas (8-2 record) was able to collect just the right shots, coming away with a 2-0 win, despite UTSA holding a nearly 60-40 advantage in possession. With UNT also putting up 18 shots and 3.1 goals on average, UTSA limited the Mean Green to just eight shots and no targets in the second half.

Offense at a Glance
 UTSA took 11 shots against the Mean Green with three on target.
 20 different UTSA players have taken a shot this season, with 18 unique players going on-target and 11 different players logging a goal.
 Leading the scoring, Northwich, England freshman Sophie Morrin has three goals on 10 shots – during the Memphis game, she was making a weeklong appearance in Wales and Northern Ireland as a member of the Republic of Ireland U19 National Team.
 Graduate defender Sabrina Hillyer also has two goals and two assists, pacing the team with 16 shots – logging a team-high eight shots on goal.
 Junior midfielder Olivia Alvarez also has 12 shots, while defenders Sasjah Dade and Jordan Walker both have 11 apiece.
 The Roadrunners average 12.33 shots per game with 1.25 goals per outing.
 Junior midfielder Jordyn Hyland tops the squad with four assists, ranking 108th in the NCAA and third in the AAC.

Between the Pipes
Freshman goalkeeper Jasmine Kessler opened her collegiate career with a string of games with not more than one goal scoring – only allowing multiples last week among her six starts this season. Since coming out of Klein Collins High School in Spring, Texas for her rookie campaign, she’s only given allowed five goals vs. 47 shots taken (24 on goal), producing a 0.83 goals against average. Kessler has 17 saves and a .773 save percentage.

Defensive Experience Making a Difference
With the addition of impact newcomer Haley Lopez, UTSA’s exceptionally experienced defensive back line has been helping to keep games within reach, featuring strong performances from Deja Sandoval, Alex Granville, Sasjah Dade and Sabrina Hillyer.
This group has a collective 240 career UTSA starts.
The Roadrunners’ defense has an NCAA 69th-ranked .833 goals against average and have only allowed multiple goals in two of their 12 games.
 UTSA has notched five shutouts to date.
 The Roadrunners have outshot opponents 148-97 on the year, with just 46 opposing shots on target and an 8.1-shot per game average.

Series history
The Mustangs and Roadrunners are meeting on Thursday for the first time since 2014, and only the sixth time since UTSA started soccer in 2006. UTSA is headed to Dallas looking for its first program win in the series that dates all the way back to UTSA’s inaugural season. This will be the fourth time these teams have played at SMU.

Scouting the Mustangs
Projected as the third team in the West Division in the preseason standings, SMU is sitting in fourth with a 1-1-1 league record. Fine-tuning in the non-conference, the Mustangs played four Big 12 programs and an SEC squad before notching a 6-3 victory over Rice to open AAC play. Over the past pair of one-game weeks, SMU tied with Tulsa at home and dropped a 2-1 road decision at Memphis.

A sparse home record this year, SMU hosts the Roadrunners defending a 2-0-1 mark on the year and putting up big offensive numbers with 11 goals in the last five matches. Of the six SMU players with a goal, Canadian freshman forward Nyah Rose has notched seven on 20 shots and 13 targets, ranking second in the AAC and 22nd in the NCAA in goals per game. Sophomore forward Eliana Salama has a team-high three assists and also has a pair of goals. Taking the bulk of minutes in goal, graduate goalkeeper Samantha Estrada has a 1.68 GAA with 39 saves and a .765 save percentage with 31 career starts in goal for the Mustangs.

UP NEXT: Next week is the second big road swing of the year for UTSA, first heading out to a Thursday night matchup at UAB, then moving on to Philadelphia for Sunday’s program-first meeting with Temple.