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Houston, TX — Senior Gina Soto scored her first goal of the season (36:46), and the defense did the rest in UTEP’s 1-0 win at Houston Baptist Friday evening. The Miners (4-2-1) controlled play and possession from the opening whistle, with the Huskies (1-5-0) never finding any sort of rhythm.
UTEP outshot the home side, 14-4, including 5-2 in shots on goal, and held a 6-1 cushion on corner kicks. Junior GK Sarah Dilling was sharp despite the lack of action, recording a pair of saves on the way to turning in her second clean sheet of the season.
Soto received a nice centering feed from sophomore Angela Cutaia, and she bested HBU netminder Stephanie Castellon. It was the lone blemish on the night for Castellon, who robbed Jade Babcock in the 30th minute while also coming up with an impressive stop on Azia Nicholson at 64:02.
Making the Orange and Blue’s display of dominance even more impressive is the fact that they were short-handed the final 20 minutes of the match. Senior Kenah Liner was sent off at 70:55 but UTEP compensated by staggering substitutions and playing smart soccer to seemingly shorten the contest.
HBU managed only one shot in the stretch, a try by Holly Missimer that sailed high at 73:15, and the one-person advantage was rendered moot.
“I am super proud of the team,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We grew a lot today. We played great soccer in the first half. In the second half we had to defend a 1-0 lead with 10 players, which required a great team effort. We have a tough test on Sunday versus a strong Texas State squad.”
The Miners took it right at HBU early on, peppering it with six shots in the first 12 minutes. The Huskies’ defense did well to block a pair of the tries, while three others whistled wide and an attempt by senior Tori Martyn was snagged. UTEP continued to play deep in the HBU portion of the pitch as the half wore on, and it paid dividends with less than 10 minutes remaining in the stanza.
Cutaia delivered a quality pass to Soto, who bested Castellon with a fancy finish.
HBU managed its initial shot on goal of the game five minutes into the second half, with Dilling denying Allison Abendschein at 50:56. The Miners were then back on the offensive, but this time Castellon was up to the task against Soto at 57:38.
Dilling was called upon for the second and final time of the match two minutes later, smothering the shot by Natalie Hager at 59:14.
Tayler O’Hayre played a quality ball off a corner in the 64th minute where Nicholson settled it in the box. She struck it well only to have Castellon come up with the stop.
The possible insurance tally seemingly took on more importance in the 70th minute when Linger was given an early exit. As it turns out, there was no cause for concern. The Miners played with poise and certainly gained some more mental toughness by yielding only one shot in the sequence.
UTEP will continue its four-game roadswing when it plays at Texas State at 12 p.m. MT Sunday.
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