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El Paso, TX — Powered by first-half goals from sophomore Angela Cutaia (11:48) and junior Tayler O’Hayre (41:13) and a stifling defensive effort, UTEP toppled Omaha, 2-0, in front of 503 fans at University Field Sunday afternoon.
The effort caps a perfect start to the season for the Miners (2-0-0), who claimed the Fourth-Annual Border Bash title in the process. The Orange and Blue outshot the visitors, 16-5, including 9-4 in shots on goal. Goalkeepers junior Sarah Dilling (three) and redshirt-freshman Keighton Allen (1) turned away all the chances by the Mavericks (0-2-0) to record the squad’s first shutout of the season.
Jade Babcock, who scored in the opener, was credited with a helper on Cutaia’s strike. It was Cutaia’s team-leading second goal on the year while it was O’Hayre’s first career tally.
“I thought we played better than Friday night,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We improved but we still have some things to work on. I’m proud of the team.”
The Miners are off to a 2-0-0 start for the second time in the past three years, and the sixth occasion overall during the Cross era.
Omaha generated a good opportunity in the 10th minute with a cross from the left wing bouncing to the foot of Chelsi Rohloff. She one-timed it to the far post but Dilling’s cat-like reflexes steered the shot wide.
The home side cleared away the bouncing ball & then started to assume control of the contest through its play in the midfield. Crisp passing and good movement softened UNO’s shape, and the Orange and Blue capitalized.
Babcock won a ball and space before threading the needle to Cutaia, who had set up shot deep in the area. She quickly controlled the pass, spun and laced the shot past a helpless Meaghan Clark.
UTEP continued to dictate tempo following the tally, but Clark was on top of her game. Her best play of the period was in the 23rd minute, with Babcock’s shot being stymied. Lindsay had delivered a brilliant ball to Babcock, who used her speed to get on top of Clark.
Overall the Orange and Blue peppered Clark with 10 shots, including seven on target, in the first frame. That relentless pressure paid off in the final minutes of the stanza, off a set piece. O’Hayre rocketed a free kick from 45 yards out past a flat-footed and stunned Clark into the back of the net.
Allen replaced Dilling to start the second half, making her Miner debut in the process. She was called upon for the first time at 55:16, calmly collecting a try by Rohloff.
Her mates on the pitch made her job easy the rest of the way, with good possession and marking limiting the Mavs to just two total shots in the stanza. UTEP also showed moxie by milking the clock through staggering its substitutions and winning a plethora of throw-ins.
UTEP will continue its season-opening six-match homestand with a pair of games in the ensuing weekend. The Miners will play host to Utah State, which has made consecutive NCAA Tournament appearances, at 7 p.m. MT Friday and Abilene Christian at 1 p.m. MT on Sept. 1.
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