UTEP Downs Northern Arizona, 1-0, In Season Opener
Aug. 22, 2010
EL PASO, TEXAS- Sophomore Brittany Kindzierski scored off a cross from Katie Dorman at 19:07 of the first half and junior goalkeeper Chandra Morden made seven saves to help lead the UTEP soccer team to a 1-0 victory against Northern Arizona in its season opener at University Field Sunday afternoon.
The Miners (1-0-0) dictated the tempo for most of the match, and outshot the two-time defending Big Sky champions and 2008 & 2009 NCAA Tournament participant Lumberjacks (0-2-0) by a final count of 18-11.
UTEP is now 12-3 in campaign lidlifters, and it has outscored the opposition by a count of 46-15 in those games. The Miners have won their past five and are 9-1 in the situation under head coach Kevin Cross.
"It was good to beat a team like Northern Arizona, which has a lot of success in the Big Sky Conference," Cross said. "We got a good effort from our offense in the first half, then in the second half our defense was very good."
The Lumberjacks earned the first true chance of the game with a corner kick four minutes in. The Miners' stop troops, as would be the case throughout the tilt, were up to the task with freshman Azia Nicholson heading the service out of harms' way.
UTEP then mounted a counter attack, with solid passing along the wing leading to a good rush. Caught out of position, NAU was forced to foul to set up a direct kick from just outside the area. Senior midfielder Anoop Josan ripped a blast that ricocheted off an NAU defender and over the end line for a Miner corner kick.
Josan played a good ball into the box where Dorman timed her leap perfectly. Her header, however, sailed wide right.
NAU vied for the contest's first strike with a shot by Sam Monahan but Morden preserved her clean sheet with a diving effort to tip it wide in the 12th minute. UTEP's defense wiped away the threat on the ensuing corner kick.
Inspired by the play at the defensive end of its pitch, the homestanding-side dialed up its intensity. Senior defender Melissa Desilets showed good touch to initiate a brilliant run up the left win by Dorman. The junior sucked the defense in, and at the last second deftly crossed the ball to a streaking Kindzierski.
The sophomore one-timed the shot past helpless NAU netminder Lauren Weaver into the lower right corner of the net to put UTEP up, 1-0, midway through the stanza. Not to be overlooked on the play was a dummy run by Skye Schultz, who drew some attention from the Lumberjack stop troops to help free up Kindzierski.
UTEP continued to pressure as the half wore in search of a second goal but it was not to be despite some good looks. Both Jessie Pettit and Schultz unleashed powerful headers only to have them be blocked away before reaching Weaver.
Morden was called upon twice in the waning minutes of the period. She punched away the shot by Lauren Zallis (34th minute) and then handled the try by Chelsea Bednarz (39th).
Facing the 1-0 deficit at the break, the Lumberjacks came out with a much more aggressive approach at the onset of the second half. The approach generated four corner kicks within the first five minutes of the period but the Orange and Blue cleared away each of the forays.
NAU's best chance of the contest came in the 61st minute. A cross from the right wing landed on the foot of the Lumberjacks' Brandy Carr, who was in a one-on-one situation with only Morden to beat. UTEP's netminder cut the angle down beautifully and gobbled up the shot with perfect technique on a closeout slide.
Morden punched away the service on an NAU corner kick in the 68th minute. She then calmly collected a well-struck ball by Brenna Boies 26 seconds later.
UTEP regrouped nicely, and started to control play in the center of the pitch. The result was dominating possession down the stretch.
The Miners were afforded a great chance to tack on an insurance tally in the 69th minute. A cross found the foot of Dorman midway into the goal box. She redirected the shot on net but it screamed wide.
Four minutes later it was sophomore MF Tess Hall on knocking on the door. She blistered a ball which at first glance seemed destined for upper 90's country. Unfortunately, though, it whistled inches high.
The close calls proved to be a moot point, however, with the Miners closing out the contest in style. NAU was held to only one shot over the final 20 minutes- a try from Kristi Andreassen in the 79th minute- which was turned away by Morden.
UTEP will return to action when it plays host to the 13th-annual Miners' Classic from Aug. 27-29. Fresno State, Texas State and Utah Valley University will travel to El Paso to join the Miners in comprising the field for event. The tournament will start with a match between Utah Valley and Texas State at 3 p.m. before the Orange and Blue battle Fresno State at 7 p.m. on Friday.
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