Lauren Crenshaw (66′) scored her second goal of the season but UTEP couldn’t overcome a sluggish start in a 3-1 setback to Middle Tennessee at University Field Sunday evening.
“It’s hard to beat a conference team when you put yourself in a hole like that,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “I thought we had the better run of play and the more chances. It seemed like a few of those were going to go in and they didn’t go in.”
The Blue Raiders (7-7, 4-3 Conference USA) received first-half goals from Taylor Hatch (5′) and Sam DeBien (19′) to put the Miners (6-10, 2-5 C-USA) in a 2-0 halftime deficit before Crenshaw got the home side on the board midway through the second half.
UTEP was unable to find the equalizer, though, with Middle Tennessee tacking on a goal with six seconds to play in the game from Peyton DePriest (90′)
UTEP had the run of play in the contest, outshooting Middle Tennesse 22-12 and holding a 6-0 advantage in corner kicks. Alyssa Palacios registered one save in the match while visiting GK Sydney Chalcraft turned away seven chances.
Middle Tennessee got on the board first when a misplay by the Miner defense led to a wide-open look at the net for Hatch in the fifth minute. She took advantage, easily putting it away.
The Miners regrouped, finding some space to work with for Carleigh Simmons in the seventh minute. She fired the shot but Chalcraft registered a diving save.
The visitors took advantage of a foul deep in UTEP territory to push their lead to 2-0. The ball was played into the box where a sliding DeBien managed to one-time the shot past Palacios in the 19th minute.
Three minutes later the Orange and Blue were back on the offensive, looking to cut into the Blue Raiders’ 2-0 lead. Jeanna Mullen fired the shot but Chalcraft came up with the stop.
Crenshaw made a fantastic run in the 38th minute before unleashing a high-arching shot. Chalcraft waited and then at the last second leapt to punch it over the net for a UTEP corner kick. The Miners, though, were unable to convert on the chance.
UTEP had another corner kick in the 43rd minute which led to a good look for Hannah Burbank. On a bouncing ball she one-timed the shot toward the net but Chalcraft smothered the shot. After Middle Tennessee cleared the ball, the Miners regained possession and raced up the pitch. Vic Bohdan ended up with the ball on the left wing and rocketed it on net only to have Chalcraft fight it off for her fifth save of the half.
Bohdan had a great look to start the second half. She drilled a shot that cruelly clanked off the post.
Kennadie Chaudhary recorded a pair of shots then but both went wide, including one in the 54th minute.
Palacios registered a save on a free kick in the 64th minute, skillfully tracking the long-distance shot.
The Miners then went back on the offensive where Crenshaw buried the shot inside the far left post past a diving Chalcraft to make the score 2-1.
Bohdan fired a low, hard shot in the 75th minute but this time Chalcraft was able to deliver the save.
UTEP then earned a couple of corner kicks and put the ball into the box but it was unable to generate a shot on either occasion.
Aylin Villalobos had a chance on a free kick with a minute left in the game but fired it up over the goal. Middle Tennessee then counter attacked, managing to spring DePriest in alone and she put away the chance past Palacios on the breakaway.
UTEP will look to get back on track when it battles Marshall on “Senior Night” at 7 p.m. MT Thursday.