EL PASO, Texas- Senior Kori Lewis tallied her first career goal (9’) but visiting Abilene Christian received a pair of second-half strikes from Natalie Jones (71’ and 89’) to sneak past UTEP, 2-1, at University Field Sunday afternoon.
Tessa Carlin and Haley Vaughan were credited with assists on Lewis’s goal. Zoey Lopez (four) and Emily Parrott (two) combined to register six saves for the Miners (0-1-1). Erin Smith delivered five saves for the Wildcats (2-0-0).
“There’s a lot of good things we can take from today but there was obviously some frustration at the end,” UTEP head coach Kathryn Balogun said. “Our response needs to be a little bit better. We have to get better at closing out games. When we have the situation in hand, we have got to keep it that way.”
UTEP got on the board in the ninth minute. The Miners strung together passes from Carlin and Vaughan to set up Lewis in the box. She took one dribble to compose herself before slicing a shot into the lower, left corner past Smith.
The Wildcats earned their first corner kick in the 12th minute, but UTEP fought it off. Midway through the stanza a foul on UTEP gave ACU a look on a set piece but Lopez left her line to take care of the service with a quality punch.
The Miners earned a pair of corners in the frame, but couldn’t take advantage. ACU had another opportunity in the 41st minute, but Jackie Miller cleared the service away with a header.
Lopez asserted herself well in the opening minute of the second half, using picture-perfect technique in a one vs. one sliding save to snuff out the opportunity for Samantha Vestal. UTEP looked to push its advantage to 2-0 in the 52nd minute but Jojo Ngongo’s shot was secured by Smith. Lauren Crenshaw then created a scoring chance only to have her shot blocked by the ACU defense. UTEP couldn’t capitalize on the ensuing corner kick.
Lopez delivered another save in the 58th minute, stoning Emily Heidman on a point-blank opportunity.
There was back-and-forth action in the 67th minute, with both keepers delivering quality saves to keep the score at 1-0 in favor of the home side. Lopez pushed a chance by Brooke Lenz high and off the crossbar.
Following the hydration break, ACU’s Jones found some space to work with and floated a shot past the outstretched hands of Parrott. Jones provided her second goal of the game in the waning minutes of the contest, intercepting a pass and taking it alone to bury a shot past Parrott.
UTEP will be back in action when it hits the road for the first time of the season with matches at GCU (8 p.m. MT Thursday) and UTRGV (12 p.m. MT Sept. 1).