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UTEP was saddled with a 3-0 setback at Houston Sunday afternoon, eliminating UTEP from the Conference USA Tournament, which El Paso is hosting. The Miners (10-9-0, 3-7-0 C-USA) looked to be in good shape through 35 minutes, earning four corners and controlling possession. The fortunes of the match changed, though, with the Cougars (7-7-3, 3-3-3 C-USA) putting away two chances in a span of 1:53.
Jasmine Martinez converted on a breakaway to put the home side up, 1-0, at 36:54 while Katelyn Rhodes snuck a shot past UTEP GK Sarah Dilling at 38:47. The Orange and Blue aspired to mount a comeback in the second stanza only to have Martinez find the back of the net at 54:46. The Miners played hard the rest of the way out but couldn’t get completely on track.
UTEP registered five shots in the game, including a pair that required Cougar GK Cami Koski to make saves, while also racking up eight corner kicks. Dilling matched her counterpart with a pair of stops.
There was an immediate push up on the pitch after the kickoff, which resulted in a Miner corner 48 seconds into the contest. Tess Hall played it into the area but it was cleared away by the UH defense. The home side maintained possession after the clearance, eventually allowing Rhodes to fire wide.
Action settled down for a bit, with neither squad creating anything of consequence for the next eight minutes. UTEP then had a chance to get its attack in gear but respective shots from Jade Babcock and Brittany Kindzierski were off the mark.
The Miners continued to play in UH territory while also securing three corners over the next 16 minutes.
The pressure nearly paid off, with a ball being played to a cutting Azia Nicholson in the middle of the box. She took one pace dribble before rifling a shot that forced Koski to make a diving stop to her right at 25:51. There was no rebound as Koski was able to somehow hold onto the ball as she crashed to the pitch.
With 10 minutes to play in the period, Dilling delivered a brilliant save. Off a cross, Kaci Bush redirected a header that screamed in on net. Dilling extended all the way to her right to make the stop and keep the match scoreless.
Following an offside against the Miners, UH went back on the offensive. A long ball into space skipped past the defense and sent Martinez streaking in alone on a complete breakaway. This time there was not much that Dilling could do. She came off the line in an attempt to cut down the angle but Martinez snuck the shot into the corner.
Before UTEP could recover, the home side managed to tack on a second tally. A cross into the top of the box found the foot of Rhodes, who struck the ball into the back of the net.
The score remained the same heading to the second half. Similar to the first 45 minutes, UTEP looked to attack quickly. The play, though, was halted by an offside call.
Houston’s first scoring chance of the period came nine minutes later, and it resulted in the game’s third tally. Kylie Cook set up Martinez who struck the shot into the net.
UTEP regrouped with the intent to rally, earning a corner kick just two minutes later. The Miners couldn’t get to the ball first, though.
Amanda Pak had a shot blocked away by the defense at 65:28 while Nicholson was denied by Koski at 78:51. The Miners earned a corner kick in the 80th minute but a foul prevented anything from coming out of it.
UTEP will wrap up its 2012 season when it plays host to Colorado College at 7 p.m. MT Friday. The Miners will honor seniors Tess Hall and Brittany Kindzierski in a special pre-match ceremony.
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