BAKERSFIELD, Calif. – Sophomore GK Alyssa Palacios recorded seven saves to help UTEP stay unbeaten in 2016 after a scoreless draw at CSU Bakersfield Friday evening.
The Miners (1-0-2) recorded 13 shots, including five on target while earning seven corner kicks in the contest. There was consistent pressure against the homestanding Roadrunners (1-1-1) but GK Jen Padilla and company survived.
The best chance by either side came in the second overtime period. The Miners worked the ball into the area where junior Kennadie Chaudhary was well positioned. She redirected the shot with a brilliant touch that bested Padilla only to have the CSUB defense clear the chance off the line for the team save.
Palacios put on a clinic in net, finishing with seven saves in the game. She was particularly impressive in the early stages of the contest, turning away five shots within the first 8:30 of action.
The Miners have now posted three shutouts in as many games. It’s the fourth time in program history (’16, ’14, 11’ and ’08) that UTEP has accomplished the feat at the onset of the year. The 2014 squad holds the standard for longest shutout stretch to start a season at four.
“We gave a great effort tonight,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We were winches away from finishing one. To get back-to-back shutouts in hostile environments is a great accomplishment. I am excited for Sunday’s game. We will be ready!”
The two sides traded chances early on but in an indication of the game to come both goalkeepers were strong. CSUB’s Haley Vicente was turned away by Palacios at 2:17. UTEP’s counter attack got a look for Bri Barreiro but Padilla came up with the save.
CSUB really had some sustained pressure over the next several minutes but Palacios was crisp in net by denying everything that came her way. The Miners started to string together some passes and settle down into the tilt as the half wore on.
There was good work by Nicole Lindsday to secure a corner kick in the 15th minute but the visitors couldn’t convert. UTEP, with much better spacing, continued to probe the Roadrunner defense. A long throw in by Aleah Davis, who was a huge presence in all parts of the pitch, led to a corner kick. Carleigh Simmons sent it into the box where the ball was batted around but the CSUB GK corralled it.
Payton Ross showed tremendous anticipation to cut off a through ball in the 32nd minute. Neither side could create a clean look down the stretch of the period.
There was continued strong play by the Miner back line in the second frame, with Palacios being called upon just twice over the final 45 minutes. She delivered a save by Myah Oden at 69:15 and again from a chance by Keneika Webster at 78:40.
UTEP created a really good chance in the frame in the 58th minute. Simmons sent a sweet service off the corner kick but Padilla made an outstanding effort to leap and punch it away.
The Miners, who had been content to patiently attack in the second half, picked things up late. Yesenia Contreras showed a good burst to create some space but the shot sailed wide of goal. Thomas had an outstanding blast in the waning seconds of the frame but Padilla’s quick reaction forced overtime.
UTEP did good work early on to get the ball deep into CSUB territory in the first OT period. Barreiro got a shot that dipped in on target but Padilla was there. Late in the OT period, CSUB pressured but Lauren Crenshaw and other Miner defenders shut that down.
In the second overtime period the best chance was by Chaudhary, but it was not to be.
UTEP will wrap up its three-game road swing by playing at Grand Canyon University at 2 p.m. MT Sunday. The game will be streamed online live for free.