Miners Win Playoff Opener
Katie Dorman scored a pair of second-half goals (47:01 & 78:22) while Sarah Dilling delivered eight saves to propel the UTEP soccer team past Colorado College, 2-1, in the opening match of the 2011 Conference USA Championships Wednesday afternoon.
The second-seeded Tigers (10-7-3) led 1-0 at the half thanks to a goal from Brittney Lyman (21:17) but the Miners (11-7-3) roared back with two tallies from their captain on the way to securing a spot in the semifinals. UTEP will take on either No. 3 seed SMU or No. 6 seed Rice at 4 p.m. MT Friday.
Brittany Kindzierski registered an assist, with her throw-in setting up Dorman’s match winner. The Miners were also buoyed by the return of junior MF Tess Hall and senior D Jessie Pettit, both of whom had been limited due to injuries down the stretch of the regular season.
Colorado College netminder Hanna Berglund was credited with five stops in the losing effort.
“I was really proud of our girls today,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “They really came to play in the second half and they poured their hearts into it. It was a total team effort and they played their hearts out.”
It was back-and-forth in the opening stages of the tilt, with each team registering a shot on goal within the first six minutes. Both keepers, though, were up to the task. The Tigers then turned up the heat a bit, but Dilling was locked in. She denied Kaeli Vandersluis on a shot 8:00 before turning away an attempt from Brennan O’Connell four minutes later.
The Orange and Blue then began to find their offensive rhythm, earning a trio of corner kicks in a four-minute span. Dorman played promising balls into the area each time, but the Miners couldn’t quite find their mark. Sophomore Tori Martyn had the best chance only to send her header high at 19:29.
The close call stung a bit more two minutes later with the Tigers staking a 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute. Vandersluis lasered a pass into the area where Lyman somehow managed to corral it and one-time it home to the lower, right corner.
The Miners kept their composure, vying to tie the tilt before the first half concluded. It was not to be, though, with a shot from Kindzierski being pushed away by Berglund at 27:22. UTEP could not convert on the ensuing corner, but it did play quality soccer during the remainder of the stanza to stay within striking distance.
The level of energy for UTEP was elevated at the onset of the second half, which resulted in the match-tying-goal almost immediately. A long ball was sent ahead into the far corner of the box, where Berglund raced out to try to grab it. Dorman arrived almost instantaneously, winning the ball away from her and sending it into the back of the net.
To its credit Colorado College recovered to earn a quartet of corner kicks over the next six minutes, but each time the Miners’ stop troops were up to the task. UTEP then went back on the offensive, with Azia Nicholson (54:55) and Hall (57:11) forcing Berglund to make a save.
After some play in the middle portion of the pitch, the Tigers countered and seemed poised to regain the lead. Dilling had other intentions, though, posting two saves in an eight-second sequence which would change the fortunes of the contest. She denied Lauren Digregorio with a diving stop on a low, hard shot before somehow keeping a point-blank rebound try by Lyman from twickling the twine.
Play turned physical the next couple of minutes, with matching yellow cards, before the Miners broke through. Kindzierski used a quality throw in to get it to Dorman, who spun toward the net and buried a shot into upper 90’s country.
The Miners played nearly perfect soccer down the stretch, possessing well and keeping CC from registering many looks. The only opportunity came on a header by Digregorio at 89:18, which was fittingly gobbled up by Dilling.
2011 CONFERENCE USA CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH SCHEDULE
Wednesday, November 2
Match 1 -.(7) UTEP 2, (2) Colorado College, 1
Match 2 - (3) SMU vs. (6) Rice - 1:30 p.m.
Match 3 - (4) UCF vs. (5) East Carolina - 4:30 p.m.
Match 4 - (1) Memphis vs. (8) Tulsa - 7 p.m.
Friday, November 4 (Semifinals)
Match 5 - UTEP vs. Match 2 winner - 4 p.m.
Match 6 - Match 3 winner vs. Match 4 winner - 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, November 6 (Finals)
Match 7 - Semifinal Winners - 12 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)
All times are Mountain
All Matches played at Mike Rose Soccer Complex (Memphis, Tenn.)