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Tess Hall (52:44) posted her team-leading sixth goal of the campaign and UTEP played with plenty of passion only to fall at Tulsa, 2-1, Sunday afternoon.
The Golden Hurricane (6-4-2, 1-2-1 C-USA) led 2-0 at the break on the strength of a breakaway goal from Camille Pelley (3:19) and a set-piece strike Claire Hulcer (21:50) before holding off a furious second-half rally attempt by the Miners (7-6-0, 0-4-0 C-USA).
UTEP enjoyed an 8-1 advantage in shots on goal over the final 45 minutes, including Hall beautifully sending home a shot off a free kick from 22 yards out. It was only due to the play of Tulsa goalkeeper Katie Bykowski that prevented the Miners from completing the comeback.
Overall UTEP outshot the home side, 19-11, including an 11-4 edge in shots on goal. The Miners also earned six corner kicks while conceding only one to the Golden Hurricane.
A well-conceived offside trap wiped out an early chance for Tulsa. UTEP aspired to catch TU again, but the pass by Claire Nicholson got behind the defense in legal fashion. It found the foot of Pelley, who managed to coerce a shot past UTEP goalkeeper Sarah Dilling.
Physical play was the theme after the tally, with the two sides being tagged for a combined eight fouls in the next 18 minutes. The final infraction in the sequence gave the Golden Hurricane a great chance with a free kick from just outside the box. Hulcer used a skillful shot that snuck past Dilling.
Rather than fold up shop, the Orange and Blue regrouped and dictated play for the majority of the match from that point on. UTEP outshot TU, 5-2, and secured a quartet of corner kicks over the final 24 minutes of the period but couldn’t finish.
The energy and effort carried over into the second stanza. Brittany Kindzierski was stoned by Bykowsi, who finished with 10 saves in the contest, at 48:08. Bykowski had no answer four minutes later, though, with Hall blasting a shot past her.
Hall tried to take over the tilt after her tally, forcing Bykowski into making three saves in the next four minutes. She did best her in the 60th minute, but the ball deflected off the post. Gina Soto sailed a shot just wide in the 65th minute while Hall was denied again in the 69th minute.
UTEP continued to battle down the stretch. Angela Cutaia laced a shot that appeared destined for upper 90’s country but Bykowski tipped it high at 79:14. UTEP was unable to convert on the ensuing corner.
The Miners compiled three more shots down the stretch, including by Kenah Linger that was corralled by Bykowski at 87:53. UTEP also had a corner in the final minute, but TU was able to win Hall’s service into the area.
UTEP will return to action against UAB at 7 p.m. on Friday. The match will be the first of a four-game homestand, with contests against Memphis (12 p.m., Oct. 7), Southern Miss (7 p.m., Oct. 12) and UCF (11 a.m., Oct. 14) also on tap.
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