Visiting North Texas got an early goal from Hailey Sutton (3’) and managed to hold off UTEP’s comeback bid in an entertaining 1-0 affair at University Field Friday evening.
The Miners (9-3-2, 2-2-0 C-USA) recorded 11 shots, including one that hit the crossbar and another that was denied by the post, and the Mean Green (9-3-1, 4-0 C-USA) escaped El Paso with the win. Sophomore GK Alyssa Palacios was stellar by recording eight saves.
UNT netminder Miranda Schoening was credited with three stops, including a sensational effort to rob Bri Barreiro on a header (88’) late in the contest. Schoening was bested twice earlier in the game but in a cruel break Carleigh Simmons’s shot (4’) hit the post and a skillful shot (13’) from Barreiro clanked off the crossbar.
“They are the top team in the conference and the game could have gone either way today,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “Soccer can be cruel like that (close calls) at times.”
The Mean Green struck early with Sutton shooting (3’) home a rebound off Marchelle Davis’s shot. Palacios had made a diving save to her left but UTEP couldn’t control the rebound and Sutton put it into the upper left corner.
UTEP regrouped immediately, and nearly found the equalizer less than a minute later. Simmons used some nice one-on-one skills to get some open space. She lofted a shot that got past the outstretched arms of Schoening only to hit the upper corner of the post and somehow bounce out.
Three minutes later the Miners earned their first of seven corner kicks in the contest but UNT handled the service.
UTEP continued to possess, and Aleah Davis played a great ball (12’) into the area. Schoening left her line aggressively and punched it away. The ball was cleared momentarily but Barreiro won a 50/50 ball in space and headed up with steam. She unleashed a beautiful rip (13’) that bested Schoening only to cruelly clank off the crossbar.
Bri Thomas threaded the needle with a pass into the area that was headed away to set up a UTEP corner kick (19’). The home side was not able to finish though. Three minutes later there was a bouncing ball just outside the 18-yard line. There was nice coordination by Kennadie Chaudhary to rip it in on net but Schoning gobbled it up.
Four minutes later Chaudhary was showing off her passing skills with an outstanding thru ball to Jeanna Mullen, who timed her run perfectly to beat the offside trap. She took a couple of dribbles but her shot blistered inches wide of the frame.
UNT had aspirations of extending its lead but Palacios spoiled the occasion. She made a brilliant save to punch a lightning-quick blast from gifted UNT striker Rachel Holden.
Early in the second frame the Orange and Blue earned a corner kick (48’) but the UNT defense cleared it away. Sutton had a sneaky shot (58’) but Palacios was well positioned to make the save. Two minutes later Katie Gernsbacher blasted a shot that seemed destined for the back of the net but Palacios made a nice punch to keep it out.
There was an outstanding individual effort by Nicole Lindsay to help the Orange and Blue earn a corner kick (71’) but they couldn’t convert. UNT put together a counter attack but Palacios made a textbook save on a wicked shot by Holden.
Palacios boomed a ball through the wind to get UTEP back deep into the Mean Green’s territory. Lindsay unleashed a shot (75’) that was screaming in on net but it was blocked away by the UNT defense. Palacios was called up one more time, this time staring down a shot from Davis to make a clean stop.
UTEP refused to go down without a fight, with an outstanding look on a header (88’) by Barreiro but somehow Schoening made the save. On the corner Simmons sent the ball to Chaudhary who had her shot blocked. Simmons scrambled to track down the loose ball but her shot went wide.
UTEP will now turn its attention to Sunday’s 12 p.m. match-up with Rice. It will be the “BBQ with the Miners” game, with Rudy’s Country Store and Bar-B-Q providing free food (while supplies last).