SMU Sneaks Past UTEP, 2-1

Oct. 23, 2011

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EL PASO, TEXAS – The UTEP soccer team was derailed by SMU, 2-1, at University Field Sunday afternoon.

The Miners (10-6-3, 4-4-2) vaulted out to a 1-0 lead on a goal from Azia Nicholson at 33:09 only to have the Mustangs (10-7-1, 6-3-1) post the come-from-behind triumph thanks to a pair of second-half strikes from Briana Gaines (56:00, 87:47).

It marks the initial setback at home in 2011 for the Orange and Blue, who slip to 8-1-2 at the venue. Mackenzie German turned in a solid performance with an assist on Nicholson’s tally while freshman netminder Sarah Dilling impressed with six stops.

UTEP registered eight shots, including four on goal, while taking three corners. It was a physical contest with 17 fouls, 12 of which went against the visitors.

It was back-and-forth early on, with most of the action occurring in the central portion of the pitch. That changed when the Mustangs earned their initial corner kick of the contest in the 10th minute. The Miners were strong in the air, though, winning the ball.

UTEP then pushed the ball down the pitch with quick movement, securing a corner of its own. Katie Dorman played a nice ball into the box, which was headed down by Nicholson to Tori Martyn. The sophomore ripped a shot which crept over the crossbar at 13:00.

Nicholson was knocking on the door midway through the period. She used some nifty dribbling to create some space inside the area. She deked past one more defender, and then sent a shot on net with her left foot which was gobbled up by SMU netminder Courtney Webb in the 26th minute.

The Mustangs looked to counter two minutes later, but the Orange and Blue wiped out the potential dangerous situation by catching them in an offside trap.

UTEP then renewed its efforts on offense, and it would result in the initial tally of the tilt. A ball was sent into space for German, who beat three SMU players to it. She then deftly lofted a cross to a cutting Nicholson, who took one dribble before lacing the shot into the back of the net to afford the home side a 1-0 lead at 33:09.

That would be the score heading into halftime, with stifling defense by the home side shutting down the Mustangs the remainder of the period. SMU managed only three shots in the opening stanza, none of which were on target.

The Miners played efficient soccer in the opening stages of the second stanza, and nearly doubled their lead. A shot by Amanda Pak trickled just errant at 53:19. Brittany Kindzierski had an even better look less than a minute late, but Webb tipped the shot just wide. UTEP was unable to convert on the corner kick, with Martyn’s shot being blocked.

The close calls proved costly, with the Mustangs pulling even in the 56th minute. A couple of passes set up Grines with a clean look inside the box. She then unleashed a shot which bested Dilling. The goalkeeper regrouped very nicely after the tally, coming up with brilliant stops in the 75th minute and then again in the 80th minute.

The first shot came off a free kick, with Dilling perfectly timing her jump to tip a rocket shot by Courtney Smith over the cross bar. A long pass to the far post set up a great look for Ryanne Lewis with a header attempt. She redirected a low, hard shot that Dilling someone kept out of the net. The rebound went straight up in the air, with Dilling somehow managing to get back up on her feet to snare the loose change.

The stops seemed to lift the energy of the Orange and Blue, who generated some chances down the stretch. It was not to be, though, with the last attempt resulting in Amanda Pak being stoned point blank at 87:10. The Mustangs countered immediately, and after an infraction on UTEP, took a very quick free kick.

The ball was played into space for Jessica Bartol, whose shot at the top of the box was saved by Dilling. Bartol tried to follow the shot, and knocked Dilling down. The ball was still loose, and Gaines tapped it in for the match winner.

UTEP will look to get back on track when it plays host to Colorado College in its “senior night” contest at 7 p.m. MT Friday.



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