BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The UTEP soccer team battled hard only to suffer a 1-0 double-overtime loss at UAB in nearly 100° temperaturesSunday afternoon.
The Blazers (4-5-0, 1-1-0 Conference USA) produced the golden goal (108’) late in the second overtime, with Megan Hudgens burying the rebound off Rachel Green’s original shot that was turned away by Miners’ (7-2-2, 0-1-0 C-USA) goalkeeper Alyssa Palacios.
Palacios was credited with seven saves in the match to give her squad a chance but UTEP was unable to capitalize on its many scoring opportunities. Senior Bri Thomas was responsible for five of the Miners’ 11 shots in the game, including a rocket (64’) that cruelly clanked off the crossbar midway through the second half.
Blazer GK Kelsey Daugherty made four saves, including two sensational stops to flat out rob Jeanna Mullen (59’, 85’) on a pair of occasions. UTEP also had two extremely promising scoring threats wiped out on offside (74’, 88’) calls.
“We were very disappointed to give up a goal with 1:35 left in double overtime,” head coach Kevin Cross said. “We will learn from this game, and be ready for next week.”
UAB generated some good pressure early in the match with back-to-back corner kicks (4’) but the defense was ready. The Miners then immediately launched a counter attack to earn a corner kick (5’) of their own only to have Nicole Lindsay’s service not connect with anyone.
Aleah Davis unleashed one of her patented throw-ins that was headed away by the UAB defense to give UTEP its second corner kick (13’) of the game. To their credit, though, the Blazers regrouped to defend the sequence well.
There was a brief break for water midway through the stanza, with temperatures nearly hitting triple digits. Upon resumption of play, UAB had a tremendous opportunity after a foul in the box against the Miners gave the home side a penalty kick (31’). Palacios stared down the shot by Amy Brewer which went wide.
UTEP then went back on the attack with a loft into the box finding Thomas who headed (34’) a shot just wide. A minute later Natalie Valentine gained possession of the ball and used a quality touch to create some space to work with but her left-foot shot was off target.
The Blazers then had a couple of tries but Palacios collected a header shot (36’) by Courtney Carraway and a long-distance shot (37’) from Brewer.
UAB earned consecutive corner kicks early in the second half but Davis and the rest of the stop troops defended the sequence wonderfully. UTEP then bolted up the pitch on a counter attack; there was a great feed to Mullen who one-timed a shot (59’) but somehow Daugherty made the save.
A minute later Thomas used a sneaky turnaround left-foot shot that inched just wide of the frame. Thomas then had her shot that seemed destined for the back of the net but it hit the bar.
Palacios made her fifth and final save of regulation after Megan Hudgens laced a low shot (65’) on target.
Late in the second half the Miners did everything right, but just couldn’t finish. Daugherty pushed Mullen’s header high over the bar and then was spared by the second offside call.
UTEP controlled the first overtime period, accounting for two of the three shots in the frame. Daugherty was up to the task, though, denying Davis on a shot (91’) from long range and then gobbling up Kennadie Chaudhary’s shot (95’). Hudgens had a tough-angle shot (97’) that Palacios saved.
UTEP had a couple of chances in the second overtime. Off a long throw by Davis, the ball was sent into the box but the header went errant. Davis then tried a shot (105’) but it had too much on it and sailed over the frame.
With time winding down, UAB accounted for the golden goal on one final rush up the pitch. Palacios turned away the original shot by Green but the Orange and Blue were unable to clear the loose change.
The Miners will look to bounce back while also wrapping up a stretch of three straight league road games by venturing to the Eastern Time Zone to lock up with Charlotte (5 p.m. MDT, Friday) and Old Dominion (10:30 a.m. MDT, Oct. 2).