UTEP Hands NAU First Loss, 4-3, In Thrilling Win

Angela Cutaia

Sept. 20, 2013

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FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. – Sophomore Angela Cutaia scored with 43 seconds remaining in regulation to lift UTEP past homestanding and previously unbeaten Northern Arizona, 4-3, in front of 704 rabid Lumberjack fans Friday evening.

The Lumberjacks (4-1-3) led 1-0 at the break on a goal by Shawnee Morgan (28:20), but the Miners (6-2-1) would rally. Senior Tori Martyn (58:59) tied the match with a header off freshman’s Brianna Barreiro’s service of a corner kick. Ten minutes later, the senior was at it again. This time it was an unassisted variety, as she rocketed a shot from outside a box that bested NAU netminder Lauren Weaver.

UTEP extended that advantage to 3-1 thanks to Azia Nicholson’s header (79:43), with Lauren Katada being credited with the assist on the corner kick. It continued to play well after grabbing the two-goal lead, but the home side was not done. It cut into the lead behind the goal of Lindsay Doyle, who finished a cross at 88:07.

NAU, which was off to its best start in program history, showed incredible resolve by pulling even with 53 seconds to play on an unassisted score by Sarah Tarver. The home side’s second goal in 65 seconds sent the fans and Lumberjacks alike into a frenzy, but the Miners were not shook.

Even as the celebration continued, the Miners blocked everything out as they raced up the pitch off the kickoff. A ball was played ahead to Cutaia, who found herself open in the box. She hammered a shot past Weaver to set off a celebration on the visiting sideline while also silencing the Lumberjack faithful in the process.  It marked the third goal in a span of 1:53 in one of the most incredible finishes to a game in program history.

“That was one of the craziest games I’ve ever been a part of,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “It was a huge win for us to beat an undefeated team at their place. There are a lot of lessons we learned tonight. I’m really proud of the way we played in the second half. We never quit. The game showed a lot about the team’s character.”

The effort extends the Miners (6-2-1) winning streak to three, with each of the triumphs coming in hostile territory. They are off to a 3-0-0 start on the road for the first time since 2009.

UTEP outshot NAU, 11-6, although shots on goal were even at five. The Miners did hold an advantage of 5-2 on corner kicks.

UTEP established good pressure early, earning a corner kick in the second minute. Barreiro served it into the mixer but the NAU defense cleared it away. The first shot of the game also was by the Orange and Blue, with redshirt-freshman Aleah Davis rifling a try high at 5:04.

Senior Gina Soto rifled a shot wide at 18:38 while fellow classmate Jade Babcock had a try that was blocked away by the NAU defense at 21:32. NAU then started to pick up its pressure, with the Miners’ defense using an offside trap to wipe out a couple of chances. The Lumberjacks broke through, though, in the 28th minute.

Danny Muniz laced a cross to Morgan, who bested Sarah Dilling with NAU’s initial shot of the contest.

Dilling had a shot at redemption four minutes later, coming up with a brilliant stop on a shot by Emily Wadell at 32:15. She pushed the try wide, and the Orange and Blue cleared away the chance on the ensuing corner kick.

UTEP earned its second corner of the stanza at 43:20 but it could not take advantage.

Cross’ charges stayed upbeat heading into the second half, intent on finding the equalizer. They earned a corner kick six minutes in, but could convert. Two minutes later, Babcock created some space but her attempt was errant. It was the same story for German at 54:45, but the Miners kept committed to the gameplan.

The attitude paid off, in a big way. Martyn pulled the visitors even with a header off Barreiro’s service. Martyn was just getting warmed up, though, as she used her second goal of the season to break the 1-1 deadlock. The tallies swung the momentum clearly to the visitors, who stayed aggressive after grabbing the lead.

Cutaia’s shot was blocked away at 72:12 while Weaver came up with a diving stop on a try by Aleah Davis at 73:19. UTEP found a much-needed insurance goal at 79:43 off a corner kick. Katada served it to Nicholson, who timed her run perfectly and finished things off with a header in the box.

It was pure madness the final two minutes of the match, but all things eventually worked out for the good of the Miners. UTEP will wrap up non-conference action at Southern Utah (2-5-0) at 12 p.m. MT Sunday.

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