Photo courtesy Texas A&M Athletics
COLLEGE STATION, Tx – UTEP’s (1-5) Jojo Ngongo scored for the second straight game and Luisa Palmen delivered a career-high seven saves but SEC power Texas A&M (3-2) found three goals in the second half to hold off the Miners, 4-1, Sunday afternoon.
The homestanding Aggies took the 1-0 lead in the 12th minute on a tally from Taylor Pounds, but the Miners came through with the equalizer on Ngongo’s strike with five minutes left in the opening half. Ayana Noel and the GK Palmen were credited with assists on the play.
Texas A&M got hot early in the second half, with Kate Colvin (49’) and Maile Hayes (60’) providing the Aggies with two goals in the first 14 minutes of the frame to vault ahead by two (3-1). Hayes added an insurance tally in the 85th minute to cap the scoring.
Palmen had three saves in the first half, while delivering four stops after the break. The Miners finished the game with six shots, including four on goal. Texas A&M keeper Kenna Caldwell registered three saves, all during the second half.
The Miners fell behind 12 minutes into the match and then survived an Aggie offensive onslaught with gritty team defense to pitch a shutout the remainder of the half. Palmen was instrumental by coming up with three saves over the next 14 minutes after conceding the goal, including a diving stop to force a corner kick in the 26th minute. UTEP did well to stave off the chance on the ensuing service.
The Miners got their offense in gear later in the half, earning a corner kick in the 37th minute. Emerson Kidd had an opportunity after a scramble, but she whistled it high. After Texas A&M secured a corner kick, Palmen snatched the ball off the service. She ignited the counter attack with a perfect feed to Noel, who sent it Ngongo. The striker bested Caldwell to pull UTEP even at one heading into halftime.
After Colvin broke the deadlock, Vic Bohdan tried to tie the contest but this time Caldwell was up to the task. Even following Texas A&M’s third goal UTEP continued to fight, but the comeback wasn’t in the cards.
The Miners will wrap up nonconference play at home with the Battle of I-10 against NM State at 7 p.m. MT Thursday (Sept. 9). Tickets are $8 and can be purchased through the Eisenberg Family Ticket Office by calling (915) 747-UTEP, emailing email@example.com, going online or in person at 201 Glory Road (Brumbelow Building, UTEP campus) Monday thru Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Group tickets are also available for $5 (minimum of 10 tickets)