El Paso, TX — Freshman Brianna Barreiro scored her first career goal off an indirect free kick (85:42) to help lift UTEP to a 2-1 road conquest of Southern Utah Sunday afternoon. It marks the school-record fourth straight road win for the Miners (7-2-1) while also serving as the initial home setback in three matches for the Thunderbirds (3-6-0).
The prior school standard for consecutive road victories (three) was shared by the 2003, 2005 & 2009 squads. The record-setting 2005 team holds the program mark for longest unbeaten streak in hostile territory at six (5-0-1).
The historic win did not come easy, though, with SUU striking first on a goal by Chandler Yost (31:10). UTEP regrouped and pulled even four minutes later with Azia Nicholson finishing a cross from Angela Cutaia at 35:53.
The two teams battled back & forth in the second half, and overtime seemed probable. Barreiro & company had other ideas, with a brilliant set piece strike befuddling SUU net minder Elyssa Hashimoto. Hashimoto finished with five saves in the match while UTEP junior GK Sarah Dilling was credited with a pair of stops.
UTEP concludes non-conference play at 7-2-1, with the amazing job on the road being a big factor. In fact, the four road wins already rank tied as the fifth-highest single-season sum in program history. The school mark is held by the 2005 NCAA Tournament team (7-2-1) while the Orange & Blue recorded five road wins in 2003, 2006 & 2007 & reached a quartet of such triumphs in 2009.
“I am super proud to coach this team,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “They are fighters and never quit. They again showed a lot of character today with a win, and this weekend as a whole.
This confidence will carry over into Conference USA play on Friday. We really need El Paso to come out and support its soccer team this weekend. We really appreciate the support.”
SUU asserted itself early, registering four shots in the first 15 minutes. Close marking by the defense affected the efforts, though, which failed to test Dilling. The Miners then went on the offensive, earning a corner kick at 18:41. Redshirt-freshman Aleah Davis provided the first shot on goal of the game for either squad at 20:06. Hashimoto was up to the task, and a UTEP foul officially ended the threat.
The home side regained possession and momentum minutes later, firing three shots in as many minutes. Dilling denied Kristy Hendrickson at 24:54, and the stop troops blocked respective chances for Sydney Cook (25:50) & Kaitlin Parkin (27:17).
SUU continued to pressure, and it managed to get on the board in the 31st minute. A throw-in put the ball into the mixer, and eventually Yost was able to chip it in past Dilling for her first career goal. The tally also came on her initial shot on goal, with Shelby Green being credited with the assist.
UTEP pulled itself back together after conceding the tally, and it quickly found the equalizer. Cutaia crossed the ball to a cutting Nicholson, who was battling hard for position with the SUU defender. She tapped it past Hashimoto to get the Miners on the board.
Cutaia was knocking on the door two minutes later but this time Hashimoto produced the save.
The Orange and Blue earned a corner kick in the 40th minute, and Katada played a good ball into the area. Nicholson did well to get the shot on net but once again Hashimoto protected her frame. UTEP won its third corner kick of the period in the final minute of play only to have a foul halt the sequence and send the teams to the locker room tied at one.
Tension was high as the two squads vied to snatch momentum in the second half. Off a throw-in, Tori Martyn had a clean look at 54:27 but it whistled wide. It was a similar story for SUU’s Breanna Brown at 55:33.
Davis looked poised to push the Orange and Blue into the lead in the 60th minute but her shot clanked off the post. SUU cleared the loose change before the Miners could pounce on the rebound. Nine minutes later Lauren Katada rifled a shot which was gobbled up by Hashimoto.
SUU raced up the pitch where Megan Mower put an attempt on net but Dilling was there.
With time winding down, a foul on SUU gave UTEP a prime opportunity with an indirect free kick. From the top, left corner of the box, the ball was made live and Barreiro blasted the shot over the outstretched arms of the keeper.
The Thunderbirds earned a corner kick a minute later, but Nancy Brich’s shot was errant.
UTEP will look to stay hot when it plays host to Rice in the Conference USA opener for both squads at 7 p.m. MT Friday.