The UTEP soccer team dug itself an early hole and could never recover in a 3-1 setback to Southern Miss at University Field Sunday afternoon.
“We didn’t come out strong and utilize the wind in the first half,” UTEP head coach Kathryn Balogun said. “We let them score two against the wind. We had to be more offensive (in the second half). We had to dig ourselves out of a hole. They came out ready to play, and we tried to wish our way through a game.”
The Golden Eagles (7-8, 2-5 C-USA) scored twice in the first 15 minutes, with Ariel Diaz (6′) and Madisyn Flammia (15′) both finding the back of the net.
The Miners (8-5-3, 3-3-1 C-USA) mounted a rally, with a Tessa Carlin (59′) cutting the deficit to 2-1. USM, however, found an insurance tally by Diaz (76′) to snuff out the comeback bid.
Lilly Marquez and Nicole Pugsley were credited with assists for the Orange and Blue.
Emily Parrott was tested early, smothering a shot by Hailey Pohevitz in the third minute. Three minutes later USM was knocking at the door again, and this time it got on the board. Jenny Caracheo crossed a ball to the left wing to Diaz, who one-timed a shot past a diving Parrott.
The visitors extended their lead to 2-0 after taking advantage of a set piece. JoAnnie Ramos played a ball to Flammia, who bested Parrott with a powerful shot in the 15th minute.
UTEP generated its first chances of the contest on its ensuing possession, but all three shot attempts were off the mark. In the 25th minute the pressure resulted in a corner kick, but the shot by Lilly Marquez went wide.
The Miners continued to press as the half wore on, accumulating nine shots through 45 minutes. None of them, however, were on target.
Parrott did well to punch a shot by Diaz over the bar early in the second half. UTEP then fought of the pressure on the subsequent corner kick.
The Miners were fighting to get back into the contest in the 53rd minute when an offside call negated a header goal from Carlin. Six minutes later it was Carlin burying a shot, and on this occasion, it counted.
Pugsley tapped it to Marquez, who sent it to a streaking Carlin. The freshman blasted the ball past a diving Kendall Mindnich to bring UTEP within one.
Danielle Carreon vied for the equalizer in the 67th minute only to have Mindnich deliver a save.
USM then regrouped and took advantage of an errant pass and miscommunication that led to Diaz finishing a shot on an open net in in the 76th minute.
UTEP will head to the Eastern Time Zone for a pair of games in the coming week, playing at league-leading Charlotte (5 p.m. MT Thursday) and at Old Dominion (10 a.m. MT, Oct. 27).
For complete coverage of UTEP soccer, be sure to follow the Miners on social media at @UTEPSoccer (Twitter), @UTEPMinersSoccer (Instagram) and on Facebook or visit the official home of UTEP Athletics at UTEPMiners.com.