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Tess Hall (25:16), Brittany Kindzierski (51:53) and Gino Soto (83:14) each scored as UTEP toppled Southern Miss, 3-1, at University Field Friday evening.
The Miners (10-6-0, 3-4-0 C-USA) outshot the Golden Eagles (4-8-1, 2-4-0 C-USA), 22-10, including 10-4 on goal, to extend their winning streak to three and remain perfect at home (7-0-0) on the campaign. Additionally it marks the 11th straight season that the Orange and Blue have reached the 10-win plateau.
Sarah Dilling registered three stops for the Orange and Blue, with the lone blemish being a goal in garbage time (88:12) by Brook Hendrix. Hall inched closer to the school standard for career assists with her 27th in a UTEP uniform on the goal by Kindzierski. Taylor Kidd posted her initial point of her collegiate career by setting up Soto’s score.
USM’s Lindsey Schwaner came up with seven saves, including several highlight-reel stops, to prevent the Miners from completely running away with things.
“That was huge for us,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “It was must win. Three goals were big. We had a great team effort, and I’m really proud of them.”
There was an especially good pace of play by the Orange and Blue at the onset of the match. UTEP peppered the Golden Eagles with seven shots in the first 12 minutes but they couldn’t find paydirt. USM’s defense blocked four of the tries, Schwaner denied Hall at 11:44 while two others were off the mark.
Southern Miss got its first look of the game off a long free kick. Missy Wentz used the wind to put good pace on the shot but Dilling followed it well and corralled it cleanly.
UTEP then began to work the ball up the pitch, keeping it deep in USM territory. Amanda Pak played the ball to Hall, who was engulfed in the box by a pair of USM defenders. There was a slight push up high which was let go, but the official had no choice to whistle it after Hall was hooked down from behind in an ill-fated tackle try by a USM player.
Hall calmly stood over the ball, and used surgical precision to drill the penalty kick into the lower-right corner to put the Miners up 1-0 in the 25th minute. The wind picked up over the remainder of the stanza, and UTEP carried that advantage into the break.
The Miners opened the second half much like the first, with ample pressure putting USM on its heels. A good run by Jade Babcock set her up on the right side. She unleashed a shot but Schwaner reacted well and pushed the shot wide.
UTEP would not be denied, though, lighting up the scoreboard a minute later. Hall sent a lovely pass to Kindzierski, who deked past the defense before providing a breathtaking finish.
Not satisfied, the Miners continued to attack with the two-goal advantage. Soto won a ball in space and touched it thru to a wide-open Babcock. The junior floated the ball over Schawner over to have it clank cruelly off the crossbar.
A minute later, it was Angela Cutaia who was knocking on the door. The USM netminder provided two saves on point-blank shots in a six-second span, somehow keeping the score at 2-0.
UTEP wouldn’t back off, and it resulted in its third tally of the tilt. Kidd used a skillful pass to find Soto alone, and she buried the shot into the upper right-hand corner.
USM wiped away the aspirations of a shutout with the late score by Hendrix, but it was far too little, too later for the visitors.
The Miners will look to continue their winning ways when they challenge #16 UCF at 11 a.m. Sunday. “Military Appreciation Day” highlights the game against UCF. There will be free admission to anyone wearing red, white and blue or who displays a valid military ID.
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