NACOGDOCHES, Texas– The UTEP soccer team was dealt its initial loss of the 2016 season with a 2-0 setback at Stephen F. Austin Sunday afternoon.
The Ladyjacks (3-2-0) used first-half goals from Hanna Barker (19’-penalty kick) and Amanda Doyle (36’) to put the Miners (5-1-2) in a 2-0 deficit at the break. UTEP continued to fight over the final 45 minutes but was unable to best Lillie Ehlert, who finished the game with six saves.
Shots (10-8), shots on goals (6-5) and corner kicks (8-2) all favored UTEP but it wasn’t to be. Sophomore GK Alyssa Palacios was credited with three saves.
“Our energy was good today, but we didn’t play our smartest game defensively,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We generated a lot of chances but were unable to convert. We will learn from this game and bounce back on Friday night.”
UTEP came out of the gates with the intent to push the tempo, at least early on. The Miners earned a pair of corners in the first six minutes but SFA defended well.
SFA recorded a long shot (13’) by Hailey Hunt that skipped in on Palacios, who tracked it all the way and collected it.
The Miners went back on the offensive, with Bri Thomas using a hard left-footed blast. It was bobbled momentarily by Ehlert, but she recovered to grab it before UTEP pounced on the rebound.
SFA got on the board after Barker went down in the box and a penalty kick was awarded. She beat Palacios with a low, hard shot to the right part of the net to give the home side a 1-0 lead.
UTEP regrouped and rededicated its attack. A foul just outside the box against SFA gave the Miners a good opportunity. Nicole Lindsay lifted the ball into the area toward Aleah Davis but the header (26’) was saved. It continued to probe the SFA defense in search of the equalizer as the half wore on. There was a good look on a cross to the far post but the GK punched it away.
The Lady Jacks extended their lead to 2-0 after an unlucky bounce off a clearing attempt led to a wide-open look from point blank for Doyle, who converted.
UTEP generated a couple of good chances early in the second half, with a Davis header sailing just wide and a service on a corner kick being punched away.
Palacios was called upon in the 54th minute, and she used a nice diving effort to make a save by Briana Bosley. Six minutes later she hung in nicely off a dangerous free kick, grabbing a bouncing ball in the box.
In the 62nd minute the Orange and Blue were back on the offensive, earning consecutive corner kicks. The home side defended well, clearing away both services. Seven minutes later UTEP secured yet another corner kick but Ehlert delivered a diving stop to spoil Lauren Crenshaw’s chance.
Freshman Aylin Villalobos demonstrated good skill to play the ball off a SFA defender to earn UTEP’s seventh corner kick of the day. The ball was lifted into the box with the Miners firing two shots that were blocked away by the SFA defense.
UTEP will conclude non-conference action at home against Nevada (7 p.m. Friday) and UTRGV (1 p.m., Sept. 18). It will be “Kids Club Night” against Nevada while all military members get in free as part of “Military Day” vs. UTRGV.