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El Paso, TX — In a physical, well-played game by both sides, Stephen F. Austin’s Chelsea Raymond scored on a breakaway at 107:24 of the second overtime period to lift her squad past homestanding UTEP, 2-1, in the championship contest of the 14th-annual Border Shootout at University Field Sunday afternoon.
The Miners (3-2-1) led 1-0 at the half on the strength of senior Azia Nicholson’s second tally of the year (44:03) only to have the Ladyjacks (4-1-1) manage the equalizer on their first shot on goal of the game by Kelly Ann Craig at 71:27.
UTEP played with poise and a purpose after Craig’s score. Dilling was also sharp, with two of her three saves in the match coming on respective point-blank tries by Zuri Prince (83:17) and Megan Wasiak (83:21) to help force overtime. The Miners outshot SFA, 3-1, in the first OT and appeared in good shape to earn at least a point against the fourth-ranked team in the central region but it was not to be.
With less than three minutes remaining in the match, Zuri Prince delivered a ball to a streaking Raymond, who had snuck in behind the Orange and Blue defense. The flag stayed down as the play was ruled onside, and Raymond had a clear path to Dilling. The junior netminder flew out to cut down the angle and dove as Raymond shot, but she couldn’t get enough of the ball to push it wide.
Overall shots favored UTEP, 11-10, and it also enjoyed an edge in corner kicks (9-4). The Miners were whistled for 14 infractions, including the first 12 in the game, while the Ladyjacks were tagged with seven.
“Stephen F. Austin has been to the past two NCAA Tournaments so it is a very good team,” UTEP head coach Kevin Cross said. “We gave everything we had and had a good effort. I can’t fault our team today, they gave their all.”
Nicholson did well to earn the Miners’ second corner of the match at 11:16. The wind carried the service, and it clanked harmlessly off the top portion of the goal frame that rests out of bounds.
Jade Babcock and Nicholson created a good scoring chance in the 20th minute. Babcock split a pair of SFA defenders with a pass, and Nicholson carried it to the far left wing. She then laced a cross that tantalizingly whistled through the box but nobody was home.
The Ladyjacks’ best chance of the stanza came in the 25th minute, with a foul on UTEP giving them a free kick from 30 yards out. The Ladyjacks played a great ball into the box but Dilling aggressively came off the line and punched it out of harms’ way.
The home side was back on the offensive in the 30th minute. Nicholson dropped a pass to Brianna Barreiro, who laced a left-footed shot that was grabbed by Morgan Glick.
In the 37th minute, it was Barreiro in the role of playmaker. She delivered a lovely service into space to set up Angela Cutaia, but the freshman’s shot sailed high.
UTEP’s persistent approach paid dividends in the final minute of the stanza. Off a SFA goal kick, Nicholson battled a foe to win the short service. Without batting an eye, she carried the ball to the box and finished the golden opportunity with a strike that bedeviled Glick.
The Ladyjacks started the second stanza with a sense of urgency, generating a pair shots in the first seven minutes. Both were errant, as tight marking from the Miners prevented the visitors from having clean looks.
The home side adjusted its shape, dropping players into space in an attempt to counteract the intensity. A couple of fouls on the Orange and Blue set up the Ladyjacks with some promising set pieces, but once again the defense was up to the task.
The Ladyjacks pulled even with less than 20 minutes to play. After a corner service was knocked around in the box, it was settled at the 18-yard line by Craig. With a screen partially shielding Dilling, she skillfully curved a shot that barely evaded the extended fingertips of an air born Dilling and ended up in the upper right corner of the net.
Cutaia forced replacement GK Lacey Lee to make a stop at 81:09 and then Dilling ensured OT with the aforementioned pair of big point-blank shots.
UTEP dominated the first OT period, earning three corners and firing three shots. The Miners also played well in the second OT session before the unfortunate ending.
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