Behind a pair of second-half goals from Azia Nicholson (51:28) and Lauren Katada (59:34), the UTEP soccer team rolled past Southern Miss on the road, 3-1, Sunday afternoon.
The match was tied at the break (1-1) but the Miners (9-3-1, 3-1 C-USA) scored twice in an eight-minute span to rip control of contest for good against the Golden Eagles (3-7-3, 0-3-1).
Katie Dorman (27:40) also scored for UTEP, which outshot USM, 33-11, including 11-6 in attempts on goal. The Miners added six corner kicks. Freshman goalkeeper Sarah Dilling recorded five saves, with a tipped shot by Tice Mischa that snuck just over her in the 34th minute serving as the lone blemish.
UTEP applied tremendous pressure in the early stages of the game, firing 10 shots over the first 22 minutes. Dorman was denied by Hannah Vanderboegh at 1:12 while the USM netminder turned away a shot from Brittany Kindzierski at 8:26.
It was a close call in the 12th minute when Tess Hall’s shot bested Vanderboegh only to have a USM player make a team save. Hall was robbed again at 18:18, this time by Vanderboegh, as was Dorman four minutes later.
Undeterred, UTEP remained committed to its attack and found the back of the net in the 28th minute. Dorman stole the ball away from a defender at the top of the box and buried it.
The Miners looked to keep it rolling after the strike, but Jade Babcock’s shot was blocked at 31:29. The Golden Eagles, who had shown no semblance of an offense to that point, started to work the ball up the pitch over the next couple of minutes. A long throw in placed the ball in the box, where it was tapped to Mischa. She managed to tip it over Dilling, to tie the tilt at one on USM’s first shot on goal of the game at 34:28.
UTEP regrouped after the tally and earned a corner kick but Dorman’s shot was blocked and Gina Soto’s attempt on the rebound whistled wide.
The home side stepped up its pressure in the waning minutes of the stanza, in search of taking the lead. Dilling had other ideas, though, She turned away respective shots by Tarbell Elisha (36:49), Mischa (40:42) and a header off a corner by Brooke Hendrix (41:20) to keep the game tied (1-1) heading into halftime.
The Miners regrouped at the break and came out with a renewed vigor to start the second stanza. UTEP posted a quartet of shots over the first five minutes of the period but didn’t finish. Rather than become frustrated, UTEP stayed patient and true to its form. Nicholson won a ball off a clearance, and then drilled it past a helpless Vanderboegh to vault the Orange and Blue back into the lead (2-1) in the 52nd.
Determined to not let the Golden Eagles back into the game, UTEP ramped up its efforts on offense in search of a third tally. It would find it, this time with Nicholson occupying the role of playmaker. She sent a ball to Katada, who headed it home to push the Miners’ advantage to a pair (3-1) in the 60th minute.
The Miners put it on cruise control from that point, relaying upon quality ball possession and fundamental marking on defense to close out the contest in style.
UTEP will return home for a pair of matches this weekend. It will square off against Houston at 7 p.m. MT on Friday before facing Rice at 1 p.m. MT Sunday. It will be “Breast Cancer Awareness” & “Girls Night Out” against the Cougars, with fans getting in free by wearing pink. “Miner Kids Club Day” highlights the promotion for Sunday. Additionally, fans who attend the UTEP volleyball match vs. Memphis (Oct. 8) can use that ticket for free admission to the Rice contest.