MINERS
UTEP Pushes Unbeaten Streak To Four Straight After Earning Tie Vs. Charlotte

Kenah Linger


Kenah Linger

Oct. 11, 2013

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EL PASO, Texas-  The UTEP soccer team extended its unbeaten streak to four after battling to a 2-2 tie with Conference USA East Division co-leader Charlotte at University Field Friday evening.

The Miners (9-3-3, 2-1-2 C-USA) were led by seniors Kenah Linger  and Azia Nicholson (33:43), who each netted first-half goals (19:46) & (33:43). To their credit, the visiting 49ers (7-4-2, 2-1-2 C-USA) battled back to pull even in the second stanza behind two tallies within a span of less than four minutes by Dakota Olson (53:59 & 57:16). Olson could not have placed the shots any better.
Each blast from 25+ yards out settled into upper 90's country while also leaving little chance for UTEP junior GK Sarah Dilling.

Dilling, though, did deliver two saves when it mattered most. In the second and final 10-minute golden goal OT period, she denied Perri Bonner on a point-blank breakaway shot at 104:33. Olson then vied for a hat trick, rifling a shot that might have been the best of any of her attempts in the contest. Somehow, though, Dilling managed to not only time her leap perfectly to meet the ball in the upper, left-handed corner of the frame but also do so with enough strength to push it wide at 106:15.

"We knew that Charlotte was a second-half team so we give them credit," UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. "I'm proud of my team's character and fight too. They refuse to lose, and that's why we have had four straight OT matches."

As Cross noted, UTEP has played four consecutive OT matches. That stretch is unprecedented at the school, with the prior standard being two in a row on several occasions. Overall, it has also equaled the program mark for single-season OT tilts at six. In a testament to the heart and character of Cross' charges, they stand at an impressive 2-1-3 in the pressure-packed situation in 2013.

Overall the Miners enjoyed advantages in shots (17-10), shots on goal (8-4) and corner kicks (4-1) in playing a quality contest across the board. They did well to earn a corner kick just 27 seconds into the match. Mackenzie German used a good service to get the ball into the mixer. Charlotte partially cleared but it was delivered back into the area where Aleah Davis' header raced wide in the 49th second of the match.

There was then a lengthy delay after 49ers GK Annika McHenry went down in a non-contact injury at 8:29. In a great show of sportsmanship, both sides huddled up for some quiet time before resuming the contest.

It was only natural that following a moment of that nature for the intensity to be a bit subdued. Each side slowly but surely found its form, with the Miners acclimating back to game speed a bit easier.

A foul on the 49ers resulted in a free kick from about 35 yards out, where Linger stood over the ball. She struck it perfectly, with it rocketing toward the goal. The ball careened off the top of the head of a Charlotte defender, not changing direction, before ultimately ending up in the back of the net for Linger's first career tally.

UTEP pushed its lead to a 2-0 after a Davis found Nicholson off a throw in. Nicholson laced a low, hard cross to the far post that deflected off a Charlotte defender and ended up in the back of the net.

The Miners appeared to be in good shape in the second half only to have Olson undo all their hard work with two highlight-reel goals midway through the period that changed the contest.

UTEP somehow managed to pull itself together but could not find a way to finish again. It was not for a lack of effort, though, but more so about the play of Alex Weaver in net. She stoned Mackenzie German at 63:46 while denying Davis at 68:07. She also found a way to corral a shot by Tayler O'Hayre in traffic with three minutes to play in regulation.

Four of the six shots in the combined 20 minutes of golden-goal action were courtesy of the home side, but Weaver and company escaped with a tie. Weaver reacted well to stop Davis' header at 93:26 and deflect the header by Brianna Barreiro at 95:31.

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