El Paso — UTEP played with passion and a purpose only to have East Carolina prevail 1-0 on the strength of Kendall Frey’s golden goal at 95:43 in OT in the first quarterfinal contest of the 2013 Conference USA Women’s Soccer Championship Wednesday afternoon.
The Miners, who earned a first-round bye after finishing third out of 16 teams in C-USA, wrap up their campaign at 12-6-3 while Pirates (9-8-3) advance into the semifinals to take on either Tulsa or top-seed Colorado College.
UTEP outshot ECU, 23-15, including 20-14 during the first 90 minutes, but both shots on goal (6-6) and corner kicks (9-9) were even. UTEP was called for eight fouls while the Pirates, seeded third in the East Division, were tagged with seven.
The Miners took the first three shots of overtime and were controlling tempo when senior Jade Babcock had the ball stolen away on a clean stick deep in ECU territory. The Pirates played a long ball into space, which drew Sarah Dilling off the line. Dilling, who finished with five saves on the day, beat the ECU forward to the ball but her clearance attempt hit a UTEP defender and bounced directly to Frey a couple yards to the right.
Frey settled the ball and then struck it into the empty net from about 20 yards out, before Dilling or any other defender could scramble back into position. It was the Pirates’ only shot of the extra session. ECU netminder Saundra Baron registered six saves in the contest, including a few diving stops.
"I am very proud of UTEP Soccer as they had a great season finishing third in a sixteen team league,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We left it all out on the field today. We had some great chances to win the game but were unable to convert them. We gave it all we had today and all season long, and we were extremely disappointed to lose the game like we did today. UTEP Soccer will honor the legacy our five outstanding seniors left behind in Tori, Azia, Jade, Kenah, and Gina."
The Miners opened up with good energy, controlling the first half from beginning to end. UTEP outshot the Pirates 8-3 in the stanza while also taking all four corner kicks in the stanza.
Freshman Nicole Lindsay was turned away on a long shot by Baron at 6:44 and then Dilling did her job to top Danielle Romano’s try from distance in the seventh minute.
A good look by Mackenzie German was blocked at 17:39. The Miners continued to pressure, earning two corner kicks in a span of 30 seconds in the 31st minute but the ECU defense was up to the task.
The Pirates created a chance early in the second half, with a header by Stephanie Seagrave that Dilling calmly corralled. UTEP then went back on the offensive, with Babcock being blocked at 47:37.
First-team All C-USA honoree Azia Nicholson forced Baron to make diving stops at both 49:55 & 52:32 while she pushed a header wide at 53:03. On the first two shots the rebound was loose in the area but no Miner was able to get to it in time.
ECU countered with its best offensive sequence in the game, earning five corner kicks while posting four shots in a seven-minute span. Dilling turned away the try by Seagrave at 58:50, and the UTEP defense did the rest to keep the match scoreless.
UTEP reasserted itself and started to probe the ECU defense, but Baron and company were ready for the charge. Baron corralled a chance by German at 80:53 and a great look for Babcock from a few yards out rocketed high at 88:45.
In the extra session the Orange and Blue pushed the ball deep into Pirate territory almost immediately, where Aleah Davis blasted a shot high. Angela Cutaia then sent a high, floating shot that Baron managed to not only deflect but also control it enough to prevent yielding a corner.
Cutaia was given another chance at 93:48, but this shot was off the mark.
Less than two minutes later, the Pirates created their first opportunity of the extra session. The long service into space put Dilling in a tough position, and it ultimately led to the golden goal.