Photo by Ruben R. Ramirez

Miners down Aggies 3-1 in Thursday’s home opener

The UTEP soccer team tallied its first victory of the season with a trio of first half goals during a 3-1 triumph against I-10 rival NM State in front of 178 fans at University Field on Thursday night.

NM State defeated UTEP a few weeks back in an exhibition match. However, the Miners learned from their mistakes during that meeting.

“The major thing we had to do a better job of was the transition moments and taking care of the ball in our own half,” said second-year UTEP Head Coach Kathryn Balogun. “We want to possess, we want to build and do those things, but [NM State] capitalized really well on our mistakes in the first game. We knew we had to do a better job there.”

The Aggies (0-2-0) controlled the first five minutes of action before the Miners (1-2-0) got on the board in the 8’. Jojo Ngongo found Jackie Soto in the front of the net that resulted in Soto’s fifth career goal. Ngongo was harassed by NM State defenders on the right side and was knocked to the turf before finding her teammate on the left side.

UTEP didn’t stop there.

The Miners took a 2-0 lead in the 26’ on a penalty kick by Tessa Carlin. The sophomore placed the ball to the right top side past NM State goalkeeper Makeena Gottschalk who made a diving attempt. For Carlin, it was her sixth career goal.

The Miners took a commanding 3-0 lead as Ngongo tallied her eighth career goal in the 32’ on an unassisted attempt on the right side of the net. Gottschalk dashed out for the save but was too late as Ngongo found the back of the net. For the fourth time during her career, Ngongo finished the evening with three points.

“’We had to finish our opportunities, which we did in the first half,” Balogun said. “We didn’t do as well in the second half with that. We need to be able to finish a full game with that sort of thing. But in terms of not allowing them to capitalize on our mistakes, we did a much better job this game.”

The Aggies got on the board on Megan Ormson’s goal in the 61’ off an assist from Emma Smith. In fact, NM State controlled most of the second half after being out possessed the previous half. UTEP tallied seven shots to NM State’ three in the first half. However, the Aggies were on the attack most of the second half, recording seven shots.

UTEP starting goalkeeper Emily Parrott tallied two saves in 90 minutes of action. The Aggies’ Hannah Leitner came close to making it a one-goal match, but Parrott came up with a key save with about 20 minutes remaining.

UTEP improved the 9-1 against NM State all-time.

Up next, UTEP will host Utah Valley on Saturday, Feb. 13. The Miners and Wolverines will kick off at 3 p.m. MT at University Field. Utah Valley defeated UTEP, 2-1, last season in Orem, Utah.