SAN ANTONIO – At the conclusion of its first season in the American Athletic Conference, the UTSA soccer team proved to be a defensive stalwart under sixth-year head coach Derek Pittman, producing one of the absolute best defensive seasons on record at UTSA, while drawing out the Roadrunners fans in record-breaking droves.
Although the Roadrunners didn’t see the offensive production they would have preferred, UTSA finished among the best defensive teams within their new peer group in the AAC, finishing the regular season with the second-best goals-against-average in The American while ranking 35th in the national stats. The Roadrunners allowed the second-fewest goals in the league (13) behind only AAC regular season and tournament champion, No. 8 Memphis – a Tigers team that also saw their powerhouse offense stifled when they came to Park West, slipping out of San Antonio with just a 1-0 win. The Roadrunners also tied for third in the AAC with eight (8) shutouts, which ties for the fourth-most in a UTSA season.
With only 13 goals allowed in 18 games, the Roadrunners’ defense set a new program record for GAA, coming in at 0.72 to edge out the 2021 squad’s 0.79, courtesy of one of the most experienced back lines in program annals and a stalwart performance by UTSA’s trio of goalkeepers, Jasmine KesslerMia KrusinskiIsobel HerrodWith the new mark, Pittman’s teams now control the entire top-5 list for best GAA performances in UTSA history.
At the core of that back-line experience, graduating senior center back Deja Sandoval (Albuquerque, N.M.) captured a record of her own in the final stretch of the season, taking over as the most-active UTSA player with 87 games played – moving past former teammate and 2022 graduate Lexi Bolton (85). Playing nearly every game for the Roadrunners in her five-year career, Sandoval made 84 starts for the Blue and Orange.
Meanwhile, as one legendary career was in its final season, another was just blossoming, as freshman goalkeeper Jasmine Kessler (Spring, Texas) earned a spot on the AAC All-Rookie Team after setting both the freshman and overall UTSA goalkeeper record for GAA in a season at 0.67. Kessler beat out 2011 standout Danielle Snyder for the program record and Allison McCabe’s 2007 season in the first-year standings. She finished the regular season ranked third in the AAC standings and 38th nationally in the stat. After taking up the starting position in her first season out of Klein Collins High School, Kessler started 12 consecutive outings, allowing just eight (8) total goals, while recording a team-high 37 saves and an .822 save percentage – which passes McCabe for the third highest in the program records. Her five clean sheets ties Dacia Webb (2009) for the second-best freshman total in the UTSA program.
Adding one more historic mark to the pile, UTSA soccer drew 7,002 fans to Park West in the eight-game home slate, breaking the 2007 season’s attendance record of 6,634. The per-game average of 875 is only second to 2007 for annual average attendance as well. Despite being a freshman in the league this season, UTSA sits atop of both marks among American Athletic Conference programs and ranks 41st in the NCAA in average attendance.
“Part of our program’s identity is to always ‘Chase Growth’ each and every year and 2023 has been another step in that direction,” Pittman said. “We are breaking program records each and every season, which is a massive testament to the commitment and character of the highly talented individuals we recruit and coach within UTSA Soccer. Our players leave absolutely everything on the field in each game and it was incredible to showcase our team in front of record-breaking crowds at Park West these past few months. We are always proud to play for our 2-1-0 Fans! Our staff knew it was going to be a big challenge jumping into the AAC this season and our players represented UTSA with pride in each match. We are ready to roll up our sleeves and get back to work in preparation for the 2024 spring and fall seasons.”
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