UTEP Silences Utah Valley State, 5-0
UTEP scored three times in the first 21:20 en route to a 5-0 victory over Utah Valley State in the first game of the sixth annual Border Shootout at University Field Thursday night.
The win puts the Miners at 10-0-0 on the season and marks their 14th-consecutive home triumph. UTEP is now one of just six unbeaten and untied teams in the nation. Utah Valley falls to 2-4-0.
“To win 5-0 and get everyone in the game, it shows that it was a real team effort,” UTEP coach Kevin Cross said.
Midfielder Melissa Abraham put UTEP on the scoreboard at the 9:50 mark when she cleaned up a loose ball after Brandi Aston’s initial shot was blocked by Utah Valley’s Tasha Bell. The ball spun off a sliding Bell towards the penalty spot where Abraham notched her team-leading ninth goal.
Just under ten minutes later, the two transfers switched roles as Aston was the beneficiary of Abraham’s cross from the left corner. Aston trapped the ball in traffic, spun around and sent a shot past Bell for her fourth score of the season.
Jami Tullius made it 3-0 UTEP a mere 109 seconds later when she was fouled in the penalty area and converted her second PK this year.
Utah Valley saw its best scoring chance midway through the first half. In the 31st minute, UTEP’s Brittany Popoff made a leaping one-handed save on a Heidi Christensen 30-yard floater from the left flank. All four of Popoff’s saves were made in the final 17 minutes of the half.
Tullius registered her second goal of the night at the 57:44 point of the match when Jessica Clement’s Utah Valley’s backup goalie attempt to clear the ball slammed into the sophomore forward’s legs and ricocheted backwards 19 yards and into the empty net.
UTEP’s fifth goal came at the 84:49 mark on its second penalty kick of the contest. Forward Lauren Pierce was fouled from behind in the box, which allowed defender Kristin Wernimont the chance to score. The sophomore slipped it past Mallory Schott the Wolverines’ third goalkeeper for her first goal of the season. It was also the first goal by a Miner defender since Sept. 17, 2004, when Heather Clark scored against Weber State in last year’s Border Shootout.
UTEP’s defense clamped down on Utah Valley’s forwards and midfielders, forcing the majority of their 15 shots to be taken from well outside the penalty area. UTEP held a 17-15 edge in shots. This was the Miners’ fourth shutout on the year.
“Things went our way tonight. We wanted to start the game strong and we did that,” Cross said eluding to the fact that UTEP’s first three shots in the opening five minutes either hit the crossbar or were punched out of play.
UTEP will return to action on Sunday against Louisiana-Monroe. Kick-off is set for 1 p.m. Mountain Time at University Field. Utah Valley will play ULM on Friday night at 7 p.m.