Vacca's Golden Goal Propels UTEP To 1-0 Win Vs. N.M. State
Aug. 21, 2009
Brittany Vacca buried a chance after a wild scramble in the box to lift the UTEP soccer team to an emotional 1-0 OT victory against I-10 rival New Mexico State in front of a school-record 1,610 fans at University Field Friday evening.
The match-winner came in the 95th minute, and it would initiate from a corner kick. Freshman MF Tess Hall played a beautiful ball into the area, where senior Tameka Sumter elevated above the pack and hammered a header in on net. Aggie netminer Katie Graul-who finished with seven saves in the contest- knocked the try away.
The ball went right back to Sumter, who once again was turned away on a header. The loose change came to freshman forward Skye Shultz, whose point-blank shot was stopped by Graul. The ball bounced back loose into a sea of players.
Vacca navigated through the commotion, and one-timed it home with her left foot to set off a celebration.
"We are so excited to get the victory in the first battle of I-10 on the soccer field," UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. "It was an awesome atmosphere at the game. The fans were so great throughout it, and it is just awesome to send them home with a win."
UTEP out-shot the Aggies 19-2 (9-0 in shots on goal), took four corners to NM State's one, and controlled possession for practically the whole game. The second half was particularly tilted in favor of the Miners, who racked up 10 shots (only one for the Aggies) during the stanza.
In spite of those staggering numbers, the contest somehow ended up in OT. To the Miners' credit, though, they remained composed and didn't alter their approach.
The tension was palpable at the onset of the match. Fans packed the venue to more than three times its unofficial capacity (500), creating an atmosphere unlike any in the nation.
Spurred on by the crowd, the Miners came out in good form. They used sharp passes to control possession while methodically probing the Aggie defense. The result was a good look for sophomore Katie Dorman at the five-minute mark, but Graul came up with the stop.
The Orange and Blue quickly regained control, with strong play in the central portion of the pitch allowing them to dictate the tempo. Anoop Josan tested Graul at the 16-minute mark off a set piece but the GK gobbled it up.
Josan was afforded another opportunity five minutes later, but this time her attempt whistled high.
With the Aggies content to pack it in defensively, UTEP was forced to be very patient in its offensive approach. The Miners adapted well, generating a couple more shots in the waning minutes but each was off target.
The second stanza started much like the first, with most of the play occurring in the Aggies' portion of the pitch. Seven minutes in, Graul knocked down a rocket from Josan. She then managed to control the rebound, even as Schultz streaked in.
In the 55th minute, it was Sumter who found some space to work with. The senior laced a shot which bounced in on goal, but this time Graul corralled it cleanly.
Sensing the Aggies were on their heels, UTEP picked up the intensity. The result was its best chance of the match to that point, with Dorman heading a cross toward the lower left corner. Graul extended herself with a dive, and at the last second pushed the ball wide with her finger tips.
The Miners were knocking on the door step at the 77th minute, with Jordan Freiberg redirecting a cross on a header. The shot beat Graul but Aggie defender Elise Nordin was in position to make the team save.
With five minutes left in regulation, Schultz was granted another chance. The freshman fired, but the ball was well off the mark. Only 30 seconds later, Sumter's blast sailed inches over the cross bar.
In the extra session, Sumter nearly had the game winner two minutes in. After dribbling around a defender, and deking past Graul, she had an empty net. The San Antonio, Texas, native wasn't able to convert, though, as the angle was too extreme.
Three minutes later, a solid sequence of passes would lead to the aforementioned corner kick.
UTEP will return to action when it plays host to the 12th-annual Miner Classic from Aug. 28-30. Stephen F. Austin, Texas Tech and Utah State will venture to town to comprise the field. Action will start at 5 p.m. on Aug. 28 with Texas Tech squaring off vs. Utah State. The Miners then will battle Stephen F. Austin in the night cap, which is slated for a 7:30 p.m. kick off.
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