DENTON, Texas- Emily Parrott made a career-high seven saves while Jackie Soto (25′) found the back of the net but homestanding and second-seeded North Texas held off seventh-seeded UTEP, 3-1, in the quarterfinals of the Conference USA Championships on Wednesday night.
The match was delayed for more than an hour due to lightning in the area, and actually conclude past midnight central time.
The Mean Green (13-5-1) received goals from Berklee Peters (20′, 63′) and Desiree Ramirez (43′) to stymie the Miners’ (10-7-3) upset bid. It still marked a bounce-back campaign for UTEP, which reached double figures in wins while also qualifying for the C-USA Championships for the first time in three years.
C-USA All-Freshman team honoree Tessa Carlin was credited with an assist on Soto’s goal.
“I can’t ask for any more from this group,” UTEP head coach Kathryn Balogun said. “They gave us everything they had, and left it all on the field. We will be back here. Don’t count us out!”
Parrott was called upon for the first time of the match in the fifth minute, making a diving save to her right to snare the shot by Allie Boyd. UTEP pressured in the 10th minute, with Kam Fisher’s shot sailing wide. Parrott came up big with a huge save on a point-blank shot from Elle Marie DeFrain in the 16th minute, denying her in a one-on-one situation.
UNT managed to get on the board in the 20th minute when Michelle Gonzalez fed it to Peters, who had snuck in behind the defense. Parrott left her line to cut down the angle but it was to no avail.
The Miners regrouped and almost equalized immediately. With UNT GK Kelsey Brann out of position on a scramble, Lilly Marquez blasted a shot that beat her but was saved on the line by a UNT defender in the 22nd minute.
Undeterred, the Miners continued to pressure and pulled even thanks to Carlin and Soto hooking up for a sensational sequence. The freshman played it into space, which Soto raced down. She then bested Brann at the near post to make it 1-1 in the 25th minute.
The Mean Green were able to pull ahead just prior to halftime, with Ramirez sneaking a shot past Parrott in the 43rd minute.
Parrott produced her third save of the contest in the opening minutes of the second half, turning away a shot from Defrain. Lightning then came into the area, forcing a delay of more than an hour. Parrott made two quick saves once action resumed before Carlin’s shot sailed wide in the 58th minute.
Jojo Ngongo vied to pull the squad even in the 61st minute only to have her shot be blocked.
UNT extended its advantage to 3-1 in the 63rd minute after Peters headed home a shot for her second goal of the game. UTEP went back to work after conceding the tally, with Soto being turned away on a shot from just outside the box.
The Miners continued to play hard down the stretch, but were unable to get any closer.
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