UTEP Soccer Begins Season with Pair of Victories

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UTEP Soccer Begins Season with Pair of Victories

Edwin Delgado, Sports Editor

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Junior forward, Angela Cutaia, wins the ball in the air against Nebraska-Omaha on Aug. 25.

Sophomore forward, Angela Cutaia, wins the ball in the air against Nebraska-Omaha on Aug. 25.

The Miners opened their 2013 campaign with a two-game home stand, on Aug. 23 against the Great West champions, Utah Valley.

The Miners left it late on their first game as substitute, sophomore forward Angela Cutaia was able to give UTEP the lead with less than five minutes remaining in the game.

“I made a lot of substitutions in the final stretch and I think those players really came in to help us and credit to them that made it happen,” head coach, Kevin Cross said. “Angela Cutaia came in as a sub and got the winning goal for us, and it’s great to see players that come in and give us a boost and proving that they can have an impact.”

The Miners tried to get on the scoreboard early in the game, just at the eigth minute of the game, senior midfielder, Azia Nicholson found herself one-on-one with the goalie, but her shot was saved by Lauren Sack, who managed to keep the Wolverines from going down.

Five minutes later, Utah Valley answered when Haley Curtis took a cross shot on the edge of the box to beat Miner goalie Sarah Dilling, which put the Wolverines on top.

In the 19th minute, the Miners stole the ball from the defense just outside the box and senior forward Jade Babcock took on two defenders and managed to get a low cross shot to beat the keeper and tie the game.

“I’ve been working on my touch a lot. When I’m in a game I don’t like to over think, I just come out and play and do my best. All I know is that I stole the ball on the edge of the box and went for it and it happened to go in,” Babcock said. “If I see an opportunity, a gap, I’m going to take it. That’s something that I’ve been practicing a lot during the summer, to take advantage of the opportunities.”

Utah Valley missed a chance to retake the lead as Natalie Baker’s shot was saved by Dilling. Just one minute later, junior midfielder Mackenzie German, served a ball from the corner to the heart of the penalty box, where Nicholson beat the defender and headed the ball into the net to give the Miners a 2-1 lead.

“We have worked on set pieces at practice,” Nicholson said. “Mack (Mackenzie German) served a great ball and she knows where I like them. She served a perfect ball in and I just happened to be at the right place at the right time.”

Four minutes later, Cutaia missed a great chance with the goalie and sent her shot over the bar.

The Miners seemed to be in control for most of the first half, but after failing to clear the ball inside the box, Lexi Robinson took a shot that was saved by Dilling. Forward Kali Stubbs gathered the rebound and scored with only two seconds remaining in the half.

“We talked a lot about being focused in critical moments of the game, and toward the end of the first half we played very sloppy, and giving away a goal with only two seconds to go in the half, it’s unacceptable.” Cross said. “We didn’t push together as a unit and the goal took a lot of momentum away from us and I was disappointed.”

The second half provided a couple of chances for both sides, and Miner goalie Dilling came up big in the 76th minute. Curtis beat the defense and had a one-on-one with the goalie, but her shot was saved by Dilling, and once again in the 81st  minute, Dilling pulled off another save to keep the Miners in the game.

“I was just doing my job. On the breakaway I told myself ‘she is not going to score, I’m not going to let her score,’ and I was able to pull off the save and it was huge for us because just a few minutes later Angela was able to score for us and put the game away.” Dilling said.

After nearly going down near the end, the Miners came back to life in the 84th minute when Gina Soto cut to the inside and took a shot that went just wide of the right post. One minute later, again Cutaia found herself all alone inside the box and her first shot was blocked by a defender, while her second effort sailed over the bar.

In the 86th minute, Taylor Kidd served a through ball to Cutaia, who ran past the goalie and just needed to push the ball to the net to give UTEP a 3-2 lead, with less than five minutes to go, which sealed the first win of the season for the Miners.

“I felt the keeper and the defenders were a little flat,” Cutaia said. “Taylor gave me a great through pass and I was able to get past the goalie and score.”

On Aug. 25, the Miners faced their second test of the season as they hosted the Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks.

The Miners took control of the game early in the game and just 12 minutes in, Babcock found herself open on the right flank and drove the ball into the box and gave it to Cutaia, who simply had to touch the ball into the goal to open the score.

Babcock had a couple of breakaway chances, but wasn’t able to take advantage of them. However, on the 42nd minute junior defender, Tayler O’Hayre delivered a free kick into the box that went untouched and bounced into the net to extend the lead to 2-0, a lead that the Miners were able to hang on to in order to win the game.

“I wasn’t actually trying to score, I wanted to give the ball to (senior midfielder) Tori (Martyn), but she was offside and their goalie never saw the ball,” O’Hayre said. “I think the team played better than in the first game, we just need to give more pressure and have more possession of the ball for our next games.”

The Miners, now 2-0, will face Utah State at 7 p.m. on Aug. 30 and Abilene Christian at 1 p.m. on Sept. 1, Both games will take place at University Field.

 

Edwin Delgado may be reached at theprospectordaily.sports@gmail.com.

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