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El Paso, TX — Senior Azia Nicholson scored her team-leading seventh goal of the season (98:15) to propel UTEP past homestanding FAU, 2-1, in overtime Sunday afternoon. The effort allows the Miners (9-3-2, 2-1-1 C-USA) to match to the record-setting 2005 team for longest unbeaten streak on the road (5-0-1) in program history.
UTEP dominated all facets of the contest against the Owls (2-8-3, 0-2-2 C-USA) but the outcome was up in the air after the two teams traded goals over the first 90 minutes. Redshirt-freshman Aleah Davis got the scoring going on an assist by Lauren Katada at 29:41, but FAU managed the equalizer less than two minutes into the second half on a strike by Brittney Nash (46:22).
The Orange and Blue regrouped and controlled the remainder of the period but extra time was required. UTEP played with poise and composure despite the stakes, and it paid dividends. Senior Jade Babcock delivered a ball to her fellow classmate Nicholson, who hammered it home past the helpless FAU netminder Courtney Zwetsch. Zwetsch had played well in the match with six saves but UTEP had the last laugh.
Miner GK Sarah Dilling was credited with a trio of stops, with the lone blemish being the tally by Nash.
The Miners outshot the Owls, 19-6, including 8-4 in shots on goal. UTEP also took 10 corner kicks while allowing just one such opportunity to the home side.
“I am so proud of UTEP soccer,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “The team showed a lot of character to get the overtime win. We believed a goal would come if the team kept fighting. We had a great weekend but now have to get ready for a tough Charlotte squad on Friday night. We have the best fans, and we need them to come out and support us!”
FAU, which had conceded just one goal through its first three C-USA contests, came out in attempt to get its offense going early. Claire Emslie drilled a shot that forced Dilling to make a diving stop to push the ball over the line at 4:20. FAU could not capitalize on the corner kick, though, committing a foul that wiped away the chance.
The Miners quickly adjusted and began to dominate possession and play. Mackenzie German looked to put UTEP in the lead midway through the stanza but quick reactions by Zwetsch allowed her to come up with the save.
Angela Cutaia created a good chance at 27:19 that Zwetsch denied but it went over the end line for a Miners’ corner kick. UTEP did not capitalize on that play, but it would find the game’s first goal a little more than a minute later.
On a free kick Katada sent it to Davis, who bested Zwetsch with a shot from just outside the box.
UTEP took two more shots in the period, but neither ended up on net as it headed to the locker room armed with the 1-0 advantage.
A foul on the Orange and Blue 1:22 into the second half gave FAU a tremendous opportunity, and it took advantage. Kelsey Parry played the ball to Nash who managed to beat Dilling.
Instead of being discouraged by allowing the match-tying-tally, UTEP re-dedicated its attack. The Orange and Blue earned three corner kicks in a seven-minute span, but the Owls managed to come away unscathed.
Katada showed good form with a shot that required a stop by Zwetsch at 74:02 while Babcock whistled a chance high at 81:04.
Cutaia appeared poise to propel the Miners back into the lead but her shot clanked off the post at 83:23. FAU struggled to clear it, and Cutaia eventually rifled a try that required Zwetsch to make a stop.
Cutaia had another look at 86:23, a header off a corner service by Brianna Barreiro, but it whistled high.
FAU created one chance in the final minute of play with a header by Sydney Tomlinson, which was gobbled up by Dilling to ensure extra time.
Both teams tightened things up considerably in overtime, but UTEP would break through thanks to the efforts of Babcock and Nicholson.
UTEP will look to build on the momentum of a 1-0-1 roadtrip when it plays host to Charlotte at 7 p.m. MT Friday. As part of “Military Night,” all fans who wear red, white & blue can receive free admission.
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