UTEP dug itself an early hole and could never recover in an eventual 3-1 loss at North Texas Friday evening.
The Mean Green (8-2-2, 3-0-1 C-USA) received first-half goals from Natalie McDonough (2’) and Aaliyah Nolan (15’) while Katie Gernsbacher (53′) scored in the second half.
Vic Bohdan (75’) scored her team-high tying fifth goal of the season while Alyssa Palacios registered seven saves for the Miners (6-8, 2-3 C-USA).
“North Texas is very good at home and came out on fire,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We did not match their aggressiveness in the first half which was disappointing. We played better in the second half. Our challenge is to play a full 90 minutes versus Rice on Sunday, and start the game extremely aggressive.”
North Texas got on the board early off a scramble in the box from a corner kick when McDonough finished a shot into the right corner.
The Miners earned a corner kick in the sixth minute but they couldn’t convert.
A long through ball was perfectly placed by the Mean Green, leading to a partial breakaway for North Texas in the 15th minute. Palacios tried to cut the angle down but Nolan fired the shot past her.
In the 19th minute Anna Jimmerson fired the shot but it was blocked to set up another corner kick for the Miners. UNT was unable to successfully clear and Carleigh Simmons had a chance but it was off the mark.
Palacios came up with a nice save, using a diving effort to turn away Marie Elle Defrain in the 30th minute. Three minutes later she registered another save on a header by Defrain. Palacios then denied Brooke Lampe’s header in the 37th minute while scooping up her shot a minute later.
The junior netminder did a good job of guarding the near post on Defrain’s shot in the 42nd minute.
Early in the second half there was a sliding effort by Payton Ross to prevent a shot from reaching Palacios.
There was an unlucky bounce on a shot by Gernsbacher in the 53rd minute, and it skipped past Palacios to make it 3-0 in favor of the home side.
In the 54th minute Palacios found some redemption by turning away Gernsbacher.
Cayla Payne fired a shot from outside the box in the 59th minute but Mean Green GK Brooke Bradley recorded the save. Jeanna Mullen had a good look on a header in the 63rd minute but it was errant.
Kennadie Chaudhary let one go in the 68th minute but it ended up wide of the frame.
There was a great shot by Carleigh Simmons in the 69th minute but Bradley made a leaping save to punch it over the frame to set up a UTEP corner kick. The Miners created plenty of chaos on the ensuing corner, earning another one in the process. That one led to a chance by Payne but it was handled again by Bradley.
The pressure paid off when Bohdan spin, shot and scored past a diving Bradley.
Aylin Villalobos rifled a shot that was gobbled up by Bradley in the 84th minute. UNT then launched a counter attack but Palacios made a great save on the shot by Nolan.
The Miners will look for a split on the road trip when they play at league-leader Rice at 12 p.m. MT Sunday