Azia Nicholson (22:00) notched her fifth goal of the season but a pair of tallies by both Erin Simmons (27:01 & 73:20) and Chelsey Maiden (20:09 & 53:06) allowed Marshall to derail UTEP, 4-1, Sunday afternoon.
The Miners (7-4, 0-2 C-USA) outshot the Thundering Herd (5-5-0, 1-1-0 C-USA) by a count of 15-9, including 6-5 in shots on goal. UTEP also earned five corners while conceding just a pair of corners. Marshall netminder Lindsey Kerns posted five saves, including three during the first 45 minutes.
There was an aggressive approach on offense for UTEP early on, resulting in a pair of corners in the first seven minutes. It couldn’t finish, however, on either of the services from Tess Hall. Gina Soto misfired high on a shot at 6:32 while Nicholson’s attempt was blocked in the 16th.
The Thundering Herd found some rhythm on offense midway through the stanza, resulting in the game’s first goal. A cross from the right side by Alyssa Cathey was headed back toward the center by Kelly Culicerto to Maiden. Her shot beat Dilling to give the home side the lead.
The Miners would answer, with Babcock and Nicholson leading the charge. Babcock forced Kerns into making consecutive stops, with the latter bouncing off the post. Nicholson was perfectly positioned and hammered home the loose change to pull even at 22:00.
Action continued to be contested in Marshall’s portion of the pitch after the goal. Taylor Kidd had a shot blocked and Babcock was turned away by Kerns at 24:06. Momentum was clearly with the Orange and Blue, but that all changed with one whistle.
A foul in the box gave Marshall a penalty kick, and it took advantage with Simmons sneaking the shot past Dilling at 27:01.
The remainder of the half belonged to the Miners, who did everything right but light up the scoreboard again. They tallied a trio of shots and had another corner kick, but the score remained at 2-1 in favor of Marshall heading to the break.
UTEP aspired to pull even in the second half, but instead it was the Thundering Herd that got on the board again. Maiden snuck in behind the defense on a breakaway, and she put away the chance at 53:26.
From the kickoff on the ensuing possession, UTEP quickly pushed play up the pitch. A good pass afforded Soto an opportunity, but she was stoned by Kerns. Soto then rifled a shot high after a feed from Hall on a corner kick. The Orange and Blue secured another corner in the 63rd minute but couldn’t convert.
The close calls loomed larger with Marshall tacking on a fourth goal in the 73rd minute. The Miners were unable to clear the ball from the box, leading to Simmons putting a shot from eight yards out past Dilling.
UTEP continued to play hard down the stretch but never could find the necessary rhythm to fuel the comeback.
The Miners will wrap up their five-match roadswing by playing at SMU at 6 p.m. Friday and at Tulsa at 1 p.m. MT Sept. 30. UTEP will make the return to the friendly confines of University Field the first weekend of October.