UTEP Knocks Off Two-Time Defending C-USA Champs Memphis, 3-2
Oct. 2, 2009
Led by three first-half goals and a total team effort defensively, UTEP defeated two-time defending Conference USA Champion Memphis, 3-2, on the road Friday evening. The Miners’ sixth straight victory moves them to 9-2-0 on the year, including a perfect 3-0-0 in C-USA play while the Lady Tigers drop to 7-4-0, 2-1-0, respectively.
Freshman Skye Schultz was a force to be reckoned with offensively, scoring once (31:53) while assisting on goals by seniors Chelsea Winbush (13:51) and Jo Radcliffe (35:54) to help stake UTEP a 3-0 lead at the break.
While the Miners’ offense did its part, the win would not have been possible were it not for the play of their stop troops.
UTEP’s defense used tight marking throughout the tilt to keep the Lady Tigers from ever establishing a rhythm. The result was plenty of errant shots by the home squad. When Memphis found enough space to register a shot on goal, Miner netminder Chandra Morden was there time and time again.
She was magnificent throughout the match, finishing with nine stops. The Lady Tigers were able to get on the board in the 76th minute only thanks to a penalty-kick goal by Lizzy Simonin. The tally gave Memphis, who had been demoralized to that point, a renewed hope.
The Lady Tigers made things interesting by Vendula Strnadova slicing a shot past Morden to make it 3-2 with four minutes to play. The Miners kept their wits about them, however, and closed out the contest in style by not allowing Memphis to register any semblance of a chance in the waning minutes.
“I give credit to the whole team,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “Everybody had to do their part tonight for us to beat a squad such as Memphis on the road. I’m very proud of the effort, and am thrilled with the result.”
It was an extremely up-tempo game in the opening portion of the first period, with both squads flying around the field. The Lady Tigers created a couple of chances in the second minute, but tight marking by the Miners’ defense forced both shot attempts to sail high.
UTEP then initiated its attack, with a nifty sequence of passing affording Schultz a clean look on net. She rifled a shot, which was gobbled up by Memphis GK Elise Kuhar-Pittars.
Memphis mounted a counter attack, and generated its first shot on goal of the game 10 minutes in. Ashley Berra blasted a shot, which Morden was able knock away. UTEP’s stop troops then stepped up by successfully clearing away of pair of Lady Tiger corner kicks.
UTEP’s offense then went back to work, this time with Schultz initiating the charge. The freshman played a brilliant long ball which found the foot of Winbush. From just inside the area, the senior drilled a shot which scorched into the back of the net to afford the Orange and Blue a 1-0 advantage at the 14th minute.
The Lady Tigers vied for the equalizer, pushing the ball up the pitch quickly after the kick off. Morden was having none of it, though, by stoning Berra at 14:45. The sophomore netminder came up big again in the 25th and 28th minutes, turning away respective tries by Taylor Isenhower and Strnadova.
With UTEP’s defense shutting down the Lady Tigers, Cross’ charges began to focus on pushing play UM’s portion of the pitch. By being strong with the ball while utilizing crisp passes, the Miners did just that.
In the 32nd minute, Winbush wove through the UM defense before deftly touching a ball to Schultz. From eight yards out, Schultz’s shot twickled the twine to make it 2-0 in favor of the Orange and Blue.
Sensing that Memphis was stunned by Schultz’s strike, the Miners intensified their attack. The approach paid dividends in a big way, with Radcliffe burying a shot past a helpless Kuhar-Pittars only four minutes later. Schultz once again was involved in the scoring sequence, as it was her through ball which sent Radcliffe streaking in on goal.
Memphis mustered two opportunities late in the stanza, but Morden made a save on one while the other deflected harmlessly off the edge of the post.
UTEP earned a corner kick in the final minute of the half, but Brittany Thornton’s header was well wide.
Facing the 3-0 deficit at the break, it was expected when Memphis emerged possessing a frantic style of play. The Miners were prepared, however, and continued to clamp down on the Lady Tigers’ offense.
UM managed a shot in the 48th minute, and again in the 54th, but both went wide. Pressure from UTEP’s defense certainly factored in the misfires, with the Lady Tiger forwards not finding much space to work with.
The Orange and Blue then constructed a clever counter attack, culminating with a chance for Tameka Sumter in the 56th minute. The senior’s shot sizzled wide, but it did at least send the message to Memphis that the Miners were not about to just pack it in defensively.
Rather, the Orange and Blue started to control possession, eating away chunks of time in the process. Memphis finally registered its initial shot on goal of the second half in the 65th minute, with Morden calmly collecting a try from Strnadova.
UTEP was in search of its fourth goal of the game soon thereafter, but a Tess Hall attempt crept over the crossbar in the 67th minute. One minute later Hall lobbed a ball into the area off a corner kick, but the Miners could not convert.
The Lady Tigers finally got on the board in 75th minute, on the aforementioned penalty kick. A foul in the area set up the try, and Simonin snuck the shot past Morden.
UTEP showed no ill effects after the tally, with Radcliffe almost re-instating a three-goal advantage in the 78th minute. The senior laced a shot, but this time Kuhar-Pitters was up to the task.
Sumter then tested the UM netminder, who came up with her second save in as many minutes. Kuhar-Pitters made another stop of Sumter in the 83rd minute.
The Lady Tigers trimmed to lead to one late in the game thanks to Strnadova, but that is as close as they would get.
The Miners will look to make it a perfect weekend when they play at UAB at 12 p.m. MT on Sunday.