UTEP Opens C-USA Play With 2-1 Win Against Tulsa In Front School-Record Crowd
Oct. 5, 2007
Spurred on by a school-record crowd of 1,269 fans, the UTEP soccer team knocked off Tulsa, 2-1, in its Conference USA opener at University Field Friday evening. The Miners raced out to a 2-0 lead on the half on goals by Melissa Desilets and Angie Kleinfelder, and UTEP's defense did just enough down the stretch to hold off the upstart Golden Hurricane squad.
The triumph snaps a two-game losing streak for the Miners, who move to 7-4-1, 1-0 C-USA. Tulsa falls to 2-7-1 and 0-1, respectively.
"The crowd was phenomenal," UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. "They gave us a huge boost and you don't that see that type of support anywhere else in the conference. We played really good soccer in the first half. In the second half, Tulsa was more aggressive but we found a way to win. Tulsa is a good team, and it's a great way to start conference play."
UTEP out-shot Tulsa 19-12 and took five corner kicks compared to one for the Golden Hurricane. It was a physical game, with the two squads whistled for a combined 33 fouls. Twenty-three of the infractions went against UTEP, equaling the sixth-highest single game total in program history.
The Miners controlled possession early, as Tulsa was content to sag defensively. UTEP patiently attacked the Golden Hurricane defense, but there was not much room to operate. The Orange and Blue remained aggressive, and the mindset paid off just six minutes into the match.
A cross by Lauren Hamson intended for Tameka Sumter was cleared out of the box, but Desilets was perfectly positioned to control the ball. The freshman took two dribbles to compose herself before unleashing a blast that laced into the upper 90's of the right corner of the net and past a helpless Kendall Harclerode. The tally was the first career goal for Desilets and afforded the Miners an early 1-0 advantage.
UTEP cointinued to dominate possession as the half wore on, with Hamson nearly making it a 2-0 game with 25 minutes to play. Anoop Josan sliced a ball thru traffic that inched past a sliding Hamson.
Four minutes later, it was Sumter right in the mix. A thru ball was played into space, which Sumter controlled and fired on net. Harclerode did a great job to cut down the angle and made the save. The rebound came back to Tullius, who unleased a blast but it blistered high.
Sumter was twice more at the 29-minute mark, both on headers. The first header was on a cross from Hamson, which Harclerode punched out of bounds. On the ensuing corner kick, Sumter elevated above the pack and hammered a header that was saved by Harclerode with a diving effort.
With nine minutes to play in the stanza, Casey stepped in front of a pass intended for a Tulsa player at midfield. She took three driblles, then drilled a shot that was turned away by Harclerode. One minute later, it was Tullius who was denied by the busy TU netminder.
UTEP's relentless attacked continued in the final minutes of the half. Sumter fired a shot that bounced off Harclerode's chest. Kleinfelder, who had just entered the game as a sub, hustled to chase down the rebound and headed into the back of the net past Harclerode to make it 2-0.
The goal capped off a dominating first half for the Miners, who out-shot Tulsa 14-0, including nine shots on goal. Additionally, UTEP earned two cornerk kicks compared to zero for the Golden Hurricane.
In the second period, Tulsa finally managed a semblance of offensive attack as it registered two shots in the first five minutes. UTEP quickly regained the momemtum, by controlling possession with crisp passing.
The Miners vied to push their advantage to 3-0 a few minutes later, but a pass in the box from Josan to Tullius was off target. Tulsa then launched a counter attack, with Jennifer Kacergis sneaking in behind the UTEP defense. She raced in alone, but Jo Radcliffe used blazing speed to track her down from behind and steal the ball before Kacergis was able to get a shot off.
The play proved to be crucial, as Tulsa sliced UTEP's lead in half courtesy of Hannah Taylor. Kacergis manuevered through the Miners' defense. She then deftly passed it to Taylor, who one-timed it past Salvi to make the score 2-1 in favor of the Miners with 26 minutes to play.
UTEP did not rattle, as it attemped to regain a two-goal lead. Sophomore Neresa Taylor picked up a loose ball from 30 yards out and sent a shot on net that Harclerode handled nicely with Hamson and Tullius bearing down on her.
Captain Kristin Wernimont single handily preserved the Miners lead at the 75-minute mark, as she saved a shot by Tulsa's Kelley Ricker. Wernimont had properly moved to the goal line to cover for Salvi who was out of position, and blasted the shot out of harms' way.
The Golden Hurricane kept the pressure on, with Salvi coming up with a brilliant point-blank stop of Shannon Locke's chance less than a minute later.
Salvi came up huge again with 11 minutes left in the match, punching a cross on a corner kick up in the air before pulling it in safely to her chest.
The save seemed to inspire the Miners, who refocused and rushed up field in search of an insurance strike. A blast by Kleinfelder whistled wide with four minutes to play, which was followed by a dazzling save by Harclerode to deny Casey.
In the final minute of the match, Tulsa had one final chance but the shot by Hailey was wide.
The Miners return to action again C-USA preseason favorite SMU at 1 p.m. on Sunday.