Junior Tess Hall scored a pair of second-half goals on set pieces and freshman GK Sarah Dilling made five saves in her collegiate debut as UTEP derailed I-10 rival New Mexico State, 2-0, in front of a school-record crowd of 1,705 fans at University Field Friday evening.
The match was scoreless until the 76th minute, when Brittany Kindzierski drew a foul just outside the area. On the free kick Hall beautifully curved the shot around the Aggies’ (0-1-0) wall and past a helpless NM State netminder Erin Wosnick into the back of the net.
The strike set off the Miners’ (1-0-0) faithful into a frenzy, who had packed the venue to more than three times its official capacity. Hall and company would reward them for their support by finding an insurance tally less than six minutes later.
Following another Aggies’ foul, Hall stood over the ball. This time her initial foray was halted by the wall, but she quickly adjusted to the loose ball and hammered it past a diving Wosnick. UTEP dominated the match down the stretch, closing out the contest in style.
“Set pieces win games and tonight Tess Hall showed she is one of the best in the country at taking them,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “The fans were incredible tonight. We are so grateful for their support. You won’t get that type of crowd anywhere else.”
With the victory the Orange and Blue move to 13-3 in season openers, including 10-1 under Cross. The Miners are now 8-1-0 in home openers during the Cross era.
There was a good pace of play at the onset of the match. UTEP quickly pushed the ball up the pitch, and earned a corner kick following Tori Martyn’s try which was tipped high by Wosnick. It could not convert on the opportunity, though.
The Aggies mounted their initial push of the tilt in the 11th minute but Dilling denied Daisy Hernandez’s attempt.
The two teams went back and forth the next several minutes, although tight marking prevented any really good chances. Freshman Jasmine Schultz did manage a shot at 39:21, which was collected by Wosnick.
Dilling was called upon in the final minute of the period, and she delivered with a stop of a low, rocket from Jennae Cambra. The save was perhaps her best of the match.
It was a similar style for the early stages of the second stanza before UTEP’s tempo and style of play seemed to change with the insertion of Jade Babcock into the lineup in the 58th minute. She energized the squad, which generated five shots over the next nine minutes.
The pressure would finally pay dividends in the 76th minute thanks to Hall. Kindzierski had dazzled the Aggie defense with some dribbling to set up the free kick, and the junior delivered with a strike that would make David Beckham proud.
Any aspirations of an Aggie comeback were wiped out following Hall’s second goal only a few minutes later.
UTEP will return to action when it takes on Houston Baptist at 7 p.m. at University Field on Aug. 26. The match will be part of the second-annual Border Bash.
Visit UTEPAthletics.com for all the latest on UTEP soccer, in addition to checking out the team’s Facebook Page and Twitter account.