NORFOLK, Va. – Powered by goals from Jeanna Mullen (23’) and Bri Barreiro (51’) and eight saves by Alyssa Palacios, UTEP capped a perfect weekend on the road with a 2-0 win at Old Dominion Sunday afternoon.
Bri Thomas (Mullen’s goal) and Kennadie Chaudhary (Barreiro’s goal) were credited with assists for the Miners (9-2-2, 2-1-1 Conference USA), who picked up their second road victory in three days. It is the first time since 2007 (W, 6-0 at Houston-11/2 & W, 1-0 at Rice-11/4) and second occasion in program that UTEP won both road contests of the weekend in conference play.
The Lady Monarchs (4-8-0, 2-2-0 C-USA) received an outstanding effort by goalkeeper Krista Moisio (five saves) but UTEP’s consistency at both ends of the pitch proved to be too much for the home side.
It is the ninth shutout on the year by the Orange and Blue, which already rates tied for second on the program’s single-season records. The school standard (11) was set in 2006 while the 2014 squad also registered nine shutouts.
“We had one of the best road trips in program history,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “Today we played a complete game and attacked and defended well. The girls showed what type of team UTEP really is. The girls all had each other’s backs; they all had a ‘wingman’.”
There was a foul (4’) against the Miners deep in their portion of the pitch to give ODU a good opportunity early on off a free kick but the defense did well to block the shot by Natalie Johnson.
UTEP created its first good look of the match when brilliant thru ball was run onto by Chaudhary. She took one dribble before her shot (10’) was blocked to set up a corner kick. Off the service Chaudhary got some space to work with but Moisio made the save.
After the Miners fought off a corner kick (12’) a beautiful counter attack was formed to set up Barreiro. She nailed a shot (14’) only to have Moisio record a fantastic stop. ODU then went back on the offensive, taking advantage of a giveaway in the midfield, but Palacios was well positioned to turn away a heavy shot (18’) by Iris Achterhof.
UTEP then secured its third corner kick (21’) of the match. Carleigh Simmons sent an accurate ball to Aleah Davis. The senior elevated and hammered a header that screamed in on net only to have an ODU defender head it away off the line for the team save.
The Orange and Blue broke through two minutes later with Thomas making a run up the right wing. She sucked in the defense before showing nice touch to find a wide-open Mullen. Mullen, who also had a goal in the Miners’ thrilling 4-3 win at Charlotte Friday, blasted home the shot (23’) to give the Miners the lead.
UTEP looked poise to pad its advantage with a thru ball into space that speedy freshman Natalie Valentine ran onto. Moisio cut down her angle and made a breathtaking stop (31’). The ball bounced free but Thomas’s follow-up shot was blocked.
ODU had aspirations of finding an equalizer before halftime but Palacios made two stops. She calmly collected the shot (37’) by Talia Tapper before tracking a left-footed blast (40’) with good pace and a nasty spin by Thyla Peterson.
UTEP pounced on ODU early in the second half, with Chaudhary navigating through space before playing a pass toward Barreiro. The senior controlled the ball in stride and lifted a shot over the outstretched arms of Moisio.
ODU really amped up its offensive intensity after falling behind 2-0 but the Orange and Blue were up to the challenge. There was a brilliant slide tackle in a one-on-one situation by a Miner defender in the 55th minute. Palacios did her part as well, recording three saves in the final 15 minutes of action.
UTEP applied plenty of pressure also, and were it not for Moisio, the Miners could have easily scored a couple of more goals. The ODU GK robbed Kobi McNutt, who rifled a shot (67’) on a partial breakaway. Yesenia Contreras tracked the rebound but sailed the rebound shot high. Mullen nearly had her second goal of the game but her shot (85’) on a complete breakaway was somehow stopped by Moisio.
The close calls proved to be a moot point, though, with UTEP’s defense making the lead stand up.
UTEP will return to the friendly confines of University Field to play host to North Texas (7 p.m. MDT, Friday) and Rice (12 p.m. MDT Oct. 9). The games mark the start of three straight at home for the Miners, who are 5-0-0 in El Paso on the year. It will be “Black Out Night” vs. North Texas, with fans who wear black receiving free admission. For Rice, there will be a pre-game barbeque courtesy of Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q while supplies last.