El Paso, TX — Senior Azia Nicholson tallied her team-leading sixth goal of the season while junior GK Sarah Dilling made four saves to help the UTEP soccer team battle to a 1-1 tie at UAB Friday evening.
The effort affords the Miners (8-3-2, 1-1-1) a road point while also keeping them undefeated (4-0-1) in hostile territory in 2013.
Kimberly Fincher put the Blazers (8-3-1, 1-1-1 C-USA) ahead early with a tally on a feed from Morgan Key-Adams just 5:37 into the contest but UTEP regrouped quickly. The Miners found the equalizer just 65 seconds later, with Nicholson finishing a chance on a beautiful set-up by Jade Babcock.
Overall the Orange and Blue enjoyed advantages in both shots (14-9) and shots on goal (6-5). UAB’s Angelica Jimenez was credited with five stops, including a point-blank denial of Nicholson in the first overtime period.
It was a tough and physical game, with 16 fouls on UTEP and 11 against UAB.
The quick pace to the contest was established early, in addition to the physical tone. The Blazers were a bit too aggressive early, resulting in a yellow card for Jasmine Kauka at 4:40.
Less than minute later it was an infraction on the visitors that set up a great look for UAB. Morgan-Adams delivered a through ball feed to Fincher, who bested Dilling with a shot into the lower left corner at 5:37.
UTEP answered almost immediately. Babcock made a magnificent north/south run, sprinting past the defense. She then drew Jimenez out of the net and crossed it to Nicholson who calmly one-timed the shot into the lower, right corner.
Babcock generated another chance for the Miners in the 18th minute, with a great push earning them a corner kick. Off the service by Tayler O’Hayre, Brianna Barreiro elevated for a header but it whistled wide. One minute later it was Babcock attacking again, but the shot rocketed high.
The Blazers were on the offensive in the 25th minute with Kirsten Ebert looking to break the tie. Dilling was up to the task, though, snuffing out the chance.
The junior GK was called again in the waning minutes of the period, making a fine save in traffic off a header by Kasey Johnson. Even if she hadn’t come up with it, it would not have mattered as the Blazers were called for a foul.
The Blazers applied quality pressure in the initial stages of the second stanza, with a pair of corner kicks. While good services gave Amy Harrison (48:50) and Johnson (52:14) chances but even better pressure forced the shots wide.
The Orange and Blue then went back on the offensive, with a good sequence of passes setting up Mackenzie German. She rifled a shot that sailed just over the bar at 53:49.
Four minutes later it was Nicole Lindsay looking to best Jimenez, only to be denied.
German then tried a long-range shot that was blocked over the end line by the UAB defense. Lindsay lifted the service to the far post but it did not find anyone and carried over the far sideline.
Babcock then tested Jimenez with a low, hard shot from the right side of the area which was turned away with a diving stop at 66:46.
UTEP continued to apply pressure as the period wore on, in search of the go-ahead strike. Lauren Katada delivered an accurate ball off a corner kick to O’Hayre, who headed it with good pace but once again Jimenez was ready.
In the 80th minute it was Aleah Davis who was on the other end of a service from a corner. She did well to redirect the try to the lower, right corner but Jimenez reacted well to make the stop.
UAB earned two corner kicks in the final five minutes of the period but could not get a shot off.
UTEP dominated play in the first overtime period, registering two shots and three corners but it could not find a way to best Jimenez. The Miners combined passes and made good runs to create chances, and Nicholson looked poise to win it six minutes in.
Jimenez had other intentions, though, making the save of the match with a point-blank diving stop.
UAB had better possession in the second and final 10-minute golden goal stanza but it was unable to best Dilling. She was called upon only once in the frame, stopping Morgan Key-Adams at 100:52.