Senior Aleah Davis (72:08) scored midway through the second half and sophomore GK Alyssa Palacios made five stops to help UTEP defeat Texas State, 1-0, at a sun-soaked University Field Sunday afternoon.Freshmen Lauren Crenshaw and Natalie Valentine were credited with assists to help the Miners (4-0-2) stay perfect on the year. The Bobcats (2-3-1) put up a good fight but UTEP had an answer for every challenge.
The 4-0-2 start ties as the third-longest unbeaten streak to start a season. The record was set in 2005 (14-0-1), followed by the 2002 team (12-0-0). This year’s team joins both the 1998 (6-0-0) 2014 (5-0-1) squads for a share of third.
“I don’t think we had our very best performance, especially in the first half we seemed a little bit slower but we picked it up a bit in the second half,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We tried to really emphasize going at them in the second half. No matter what year it is and where we play, Texas State plays us tough. It’s always one of the toughest games of the year.”
Texas State showed a good burst off the kickoff, racing up the pitch but UTEP’s defense reacted well to block Kassi Hormuth’s shot 32 seconds in. The Miners put together a quality counter attack to earn a corner kick. Nicole Lindsay sent a good ball to Davis, but the header sailed wide of the frame.
The Bobcats tested Palacios twice within a minute, but both times she was up to the task. She gobbled up Brooke Ramsey’s low, hard shot at 12:13. The sophomore then elevated, showing good hands to cleanly corral the shot by Hormuth at 13:10.
The Miners really started to assert themselves in the air on both sides of the pitch. Their prowess in the air was giving Texas State fits, but the visitors did well to adjust their passing and marking.
In the 21st minute there was good work up top to earn UTEP’s fourth corner kick of the contest but it was unable to capitalize. The best sequence of soccer on the day for Texas State came a few minutes later but Palacios showed top form with two big saves.
As the half wore on, UTEP started being much more intentional with its offensive play. There was good skill on a header by Devyn Hunley at 26:24 while Lauren Crenshaw unleashed a booming blast at 28:56. Both chances, though, were handled by Texas State GK Kathryn Budde.
In the 33rd minute the Miners strung together some passes to set up Bri Thomas for a header but Budde stared down the shot to make the save. In the final five minutes of the frame, a shot by Jodie Enokson was blocked and Davis’s header was wide to the right.
UTEP had a golden opportunity in the 50th minute, with Jeanna Mullen deking past a defender before turning to send a cross. She struck it perfectly, lifting it over the outstretched arms of Budde. Thomas was waiting, but header inched high.
Texas State garnered a corner kick in the 60th minute but perfect positioning and timing by Davis let her head the service out of harms’ way.
Three minutes later Palacios made her fifth and final save of the game. A shot trickled in on net by Ali Jones. She tracked it all the way, calmly collecting the shot.
The Miners got on the board thanks to the efforts of Crenshaw, Valentine and Davis in the 72nd minute. Crenshaw played a good thru ball to Valentine, who sent a cross toward a streaking Davis. The ball found her head, and it blistered past Budde.
Texas State regrouped and rededicated its attack, but UTEP’s back line was stout. The visitors managed just one shot down the stretch, which was high.
UTEP will wrap up the road portion of its non-conference slate by playing at Incarnate Word (6 p.m. MDT, Friday) and at Stephen F. Austin (12 p.m. MDT, Sept. 11).