FILE: Junior Alyssa Palacios recording a career-high tying 10 saves.
Alyssa Palacios made six saves while senior Kennadie Chaudhary registered a goal (41′) but visiting Abilene Christian spoiled UTEP’s by toppling the Miners, 2-1, in overtime.
Sam Vestal (30′) and Dylan Owens (93′) scored for the Wildcats, who were outshot 14-13.
The youth-laden Miners have dropped back-to-back matches to start the year for the first time since 2000, the season before Kevin Cross assumed the head coaching position. Furthermore, it is the initial occasion in program history to have consecutive overtime losses. UTEP was upended in double OT at NM State Friday.
“I thought we played a better game than we did on Friday” Cross said. “We played pretty good soccer and just had a little bit of bad luck to be honest. Credit to them on that counter attack. We had a few chances that we could have scored and played pretty good.”
In the sixth minute the Miners did good work to earn a corner kick. The ball was batted around in the box but UTEP couldn’t generate a shot. Nine minutes later off a free kick the Miners found Jeanna Mullen for a header. But to her credit, the ACU GK Erin Smith was able to make the save.
In the 19th minute it was a nice idea by Devyn Hunley to put a shot on target but it was blocked away by the defense. The Miners earned a corner out of the sequence but they couldn’t convert. Midway through the stanza ACU generated its second shot on goal of the game but Palacios displayed top form by making the save.
The Wildcats got on the board thanks to a corner kick by Vestal in the 30th minute. She sent a service into the area with serious English on the ball; Palacios’s punch attempt unfortunately redirected into the goal to give the visitors the lead. It was short lived, with 11 minutes later the Miners finding the equalizer.
Off a corner kick, Villalobos got it to Trevino, whose header went to Chaudhary. The senior then headed it home to pull the home side even at one.
Early in the second half the Miners created two shots in a three minute span, including one by Lauren Crenshaw that led to a corner kick. The pressure didn’t, however, pay dividends.
In the 68th minute and the sun now bearing down on University Field, from inside the box the goal scorer for ACU Vestal fired a low shot net but Palacios denied it. The Miners initiated a nice counter attack, eventually leading to a sweet counter attack for Chaudhary but she was robbed by Smith with a diving stop.
UTEP displayed outstanding set piece execution in the 75th minute with Villalobos threading the needle to a cutting Valentine. Her header, though, was saved. Ten minutes later there was a sneaky left-footed flick by Dynastee Cain from point-blank range but it inched just wide of the frame.
There was a great chance off a giveaway but unlucky strike by Valentine, and her shot sails wide of the net.
The Miners generated a chance early in OT but Mullen’s blast went wide. ACU then countered, and capitalized with the match winner.
UTEP will continue its three-game homestand by playing host to CSU Bakersfield at 7 p.m. MT Friday and I-25 rival New Mexico on Aug. 27. Friday will have the annual pre-game UTEP Soccer Alumni Association tailgate starting at 5:30 p.m. with free food from Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q while supplies last.
Additionally, all kids (12 and under) will get in free and there will be a post-game autograph session. As part of “Jersey Day” on Aug. 27, all individuals who wear a soccer jersey will receive free admission.