UTEP Soccer falls 2-1 to Rice in Conference-USA opener

Edwin Delgado, Sports Editor

With two goals in a space of one minute, the Rice Owls mounted a comeback to defeat the Miners.

“It was a good win, UTEP is one of the toughest teams to play on the road. I’m very proud of my team, they put up a good fight,” said Rice head coach Nicky Adams.   “We made our non-conference schedule tough for a reason–to prepare us to be in adverse situations like today and we came through.”

The game had a slow start; both teams were struggling to win the position battle.

Rice had the first chance of the game as Holly Hargreaves found a gap and took a shot but it was blocked and fell easily to the hand of UTEP goalie Sarah Dilling.

Slowly the Miners took control of the game and in the 19th minute had two good chances to open the score. First, freshman Brianna Barreiro took a shot to the second post which was saved by Owls goalie Amy Czyz, just seconds later senior forward Jade Babcock took a shot on the edge of the penalty box but Czyz pulled another save to keep the game tied.

On the 31st minute Babcock ran past the defense and with a tight angle she tried a shot on goals that went to the hands of the goalie.

“There were definitely opportunities in the first half that we could’ve put away,” Babcock said. “It all goes down to focusing on every single play of the game, if you let your guard down the other team can score on you and they took advantage of it.”

In the second half, Rice was able to control the game and pushed the Miners back, however in the 72nd minute, following a foul on the Miners half of the field. junior defender Tayler O’Hayre took the free kick from 60-yards, the ball bounced inside the box and sailed over Czyz and into the net to give the Miners the lead.

“It’s was on a free kick again, it was a little behind half but the wind carried it and it got a lucky bounce,” O’Hayre said. “I don’t think their goalie was expecting it to come that far and bounced over her head.”

Despite going down on the game, the Rice owls quickly pushed the Miners back and tried to equalize as soon as possible, In the 75th minute midfielder Bella Hernandez found space on the left flank and sent a cross past the defenders and junior midfielder Gabriela Iribarne just had to push the ball to the net.

It took the Owls only 72 seconds to create another chance, once again through the left side. Freshman defender Jenny Fichera’s cross into the box was put away by Hargreaves. The two scores were enough for Rice to secure a come-back win over the Miners.

With the loss, the Miners are now 7-3-1 and 0-1 in Conference USA. UTEP head coach Kevin Cross stated he was disappointed with the way the game was lost.

“We should know better than that, those are critical periods, after we scored we should have stepped up a little and shouldn’t have let them get back in the game,” Cross said. “We can’t put our heads down, we have to keep our heads up and be ready for Southern Miss on Sunday and not give critical period goals.”

The Miners will have their second game of the season on Sunday when they host Southern Miss at noon in University Field.

Edwin Delgado may be reached at [email protected]