Bri Thomas scored her first goal of the season to help UTEP soccer team forge a 1-1 tie against Conference USA leader Marshall at a blustery University Field Sunday afternoon.
The Miners (8-4-2, 1-1-2 C-USA) fell behind early in the match, with an unfortunate miscommunication leading to an own goal to put the visitors up 1–0 just 14 minutes into the contest. The score remained the same heading into halftime, putting UTEP in the undesirable position of playing catch up against the Thundering Herd (9-1-3, 2-0-2 C-USA)
Making matters more difficult was the fact UTEP had to attack into the teeth of a strong wind. The Orange and Blue’s resolve was even stronger, though, and they found the equalizer at 66:18. Neither squad could light up the scoreboard the rest of the way, and the Miners were rewarded with a hard-fought point.
Shots favored MU, 22-14, including 9-3 on frame, while each team earned five corner kicks. It was a physical contest, with 21 fouls going against UTEP and 12 being whistled against the visitors. UTEP freshman GK Alyssa Palacios was in top form by making eight saves while Thundering Herd netminder Lizzie Kish was credited with a pair of stops.
The effort extends UTEP’s unbeaten streak for C-USA contests at home to six. The Miners are 4-0-2 in the sequence.
“I’m really proud of the team. We left it all out on the field. We had an unlucky break when we gave up the own goal but the team really responded well. We had a great second half. It’s a good result against a team rated #42, and we know if we play our best soccer we can compete against anyone in the league.”
UTEP outshot Marshall, 7-6, over the first 45 minutes but found itself trailing 1-0 as result of the aforementioned own goal. The Miners regrouped during halftime, and they came out looking to push play. UTEP earned a pair of corner kicks in the first two minutes of the second half, but couldn’t find paydirt.
The home side continued to attack as the half wore on, with the breakthrough coming with 24 minutes remaining in regulation.
On the game-tying sequence senior Angela Cutaia made a determined run up the right wing, sucking the defense as result. At the last-possible second, she played a cross to the far post where a streaking Thomas one-timed home a shot from just outside the box with a rocket from her left foot.
Marshall, which sports a #41 ranking in the RPI and is now unbeaten in 12 straight (9-0-3), had aspirations of regaining the lead but the play of the Miner defense made that a pipe dream.
Palacios certainly did her part, by making four saves in the second half and a pair in the final OT period. Included among those was perhaps the best stop of her collegiate career, which came at 54:16. With UTEP still trailing, 1-0, MU sent a ball into the box that found the foot of Sydney Arnold from six yards out. She one-timed the shot, which seemed destined for the back of the net, but somehow Palacios was able to use a dive to the right to push it wide.
Just four minutes earlier Palacios had used a leaping save to push a shot by Ashley Seltzer up and over the bar. On the ensuing corner kicks for the respective situations, the Miners’ stop troops took care of business.
UTEP will play at UTSA at 6 p.m. MT Friday. The contest marks the start of three straight on the road for the Orange and Blue.
Author: UTEP Athletics