The UTEP soccer team battled hard only to be upended by Colorado College, 2-0, at an unseasonably-cold University Field Friday evening.
The Tigers (13-3-4, 8-2-1 C-USA) used a penalty-kick goal by Madison Whitehead (3:46) and an insurance tally from Rachel Herron (80:44) to spoil the Miners’ (10-10-0, 3-8-0 C-USA) 2012 season finale and “Senior Night.” The seniors, Tess Hall and Brittany Kindzierski, were honored in a pre-match ceremony for their outstanding contribution to the program the past four years. The duo aided the Miners to 45 wins, and each of them etched their names into the school's top-10 career rankings for key offensive categories.
The Orange and Blue registered 10 shots in the tilt, including four on net, but couldn’t find a way to beat Colorado College netminder Hanna Berglund. One of those tries did get past her, a header from Tori Martyn late in the first half, but it bounced off the post.
Even with the setback, UTEP can hold its head high. The Miners fought through the loss of five key players to injury and some tough breaks on the road to record their 11th straight season with 10 or more victories. UTEP achieved the feat just once prior to Kevin Cross being appointed as head coach before the 2001 season.
The youth-laden squad, which had only the aforementioned two seniors, enjoyed three separate winning streaks of three games. Four of the top five goal scorers and assist leaders are set to return in 2013, in addition to netminder Sarah Dilling.
Overall UTEP is slated to bring back 17 letterwinners, including nine starters. The Miners will also be buoyed by the return of health to individuals such as ballyhooed freshman Aleah Davis, sophomores Mackenzie German and Lauren Katada and junior Skye Schultz and a quality recruiting class.
There was an unfortunate start to the tilt Friday, with a foul by UTEP in the box setting up the Colorado College penalty kick less than four minutes in. Whitehead struck the ball perfectly to sneak it past Dilling.
After winning a couple chances in the air on Colorado College corners, the Miners went on the offensive. Hall laced a shot which forced Berglund into a save at 9:02. With the wind whipping, ball possession and playing with aggression was not easy for either squad the next several minutes. The Tigers secured a pair of corners in the 21st minute but the Orange and Blue defense would not let anything get in on target.
It was then UTEP’s turn to apply some pressure, with good ball movement setting up Jade Babcock. She unleashed a shot only to have Berglund cleanly corral the chance at 28:30. A foul on the Tigers in the 34th minute set up a free kick for the Orange and Blue from just past midfield. Tayler O’Hayre sliced the shot through the wind, but Berglund leapt and punched it high. UTEP was unable to convert on the ensuing corner kick by Hall.
Six minutes later, it was déjà vu all over again. O’Haye played a beautiful ball into the area. Martyn elevated above the pack to deliver a powerful header. The shot bested Berglund but deflected off the post before being cleared out of harms’ way by the Tigers’ defense.
UTEP generated one final chance in the waning seconds of the stanza, but Berglund was there to take care of the chance by Hall.
The Miners dictated the tempo at the onset of the second stanza, earning a corner kick two minutes in. Amanda Pak’s shot, though, was blocked away by the defense. Colorado College then began to get its attack in gear, but Dilling was there. She turned away a shot by Brittney Lymen at 48:39. The Tigers then had two shots which were off the mark.
Kindzierski used a good spin move to create some space in the 59th minute, but the shot was deflected by the Tigers. Hall had a shot sail high in the 72nd minute, and then UTEP couldn’t quite get to the ball on her service from a corner in the 79th minute.
Colorado College tacked on the second goal with eight minutes to play.