A trio of second half goals sparked UC Davis to a 3-0 win over UTEP in the season opener for both sides on Thursday night at University Field.
Following 53 minutes of scoreless action, the Aggies (1-0) turned a stretch of just over five minutes into three goals to dramatically change the complexion of what had been a tie game.
Off the rebound from a Taylour Mendoza shot, Molly Branigan rocketed in the initial goal for the visitors in the 54th minute.
Shortly after in the 56th minute, 2021 All-Big West Conference selection Risa Yamada was the beneficiary of a beautiful sequence of passing that led her to a strong look that she would convert to extend the lead to a pair. Alana Curtis and Leslie Fregoso were credited with assists on the play.
Fregoso joined the scoring column on her own in the 60th minute off an assist from Branigan.
“I think they made a good adjustment where they overloaded on our side where we weren’t quite tight enough and we were a little bit disconnected, and they overpowered us with speed,” UTEP Head Coach Kathryn Balogun said. “They had a good adjustment there. I think we just came out flat as if we had done something, and we had only made it through the first half. Six minutes of really bad soccer and you find yourself down three goals, but I still have confidence in this team. There is an energy and a connection that I don’t think we have had in the past that I think they are able to recover from this and move forward.”
UC Davis outshot the Miners 19-4 overall and 12-3 in the final 45 minutes. The Aggies had six corners to two for UTEP.
Mariah Scott had six saves in net for the Miners while Caeley Goldstein stopped two shots for UC Davis on the way to the shutout.
UTEP returns to action on Sunday at noon MT at Abilene Christian.
“It’s going to be a good game,” Balogun said. “You leave here, get on a bus and you travel for a few hours, so that’s always going to be tough when you split weekends. They (Abilene Christian) have competed in their conference the last few years and they are coming off some big-time transfers and some big-time movement for them too, so I think it will be very similar but with different players. They will come out tough. We just have to positively respond on what we can control.”