OREM -- UTEP scored the go-ahead goal with just 42 seconds left in regulation to steal a 2-1 win over Utah Valley University Friday night at UVU's Clyde Field. The match was the regular season opener for both teams.
"We knew this was going to be a tough game. UTEP has been a quality team for some time now," UVU head coach Brent Anderson said. "Obviously it's tough to lose that game in the last 40 seconds, but it shows us the things we need to work on. We would have loved to have had the win, but we played tough against a great opponent and we can learn some great things from the match."
UVU (0-1-0), having sustained a flurry of shots from the Miners (1-0-0) in the second half, seemed to have the game heading to overtime. But the Wolverine defense broke when, just past the one-minute warning, UTEP midfielder Azia Nicholson slipped a pass from the endline to Tess Hall. Hall slotted the ball into the lower right hand corner, sealing a UTEP win with just 42 seconds remaining.
UVU fell into an early 1-0 hole when Nicholson, a preseason All-Conference USA selection, opened the scoring in the 16th minute with a right-footed shot from 16 yards.
Having conceding the opening goal, the Wolverines ratcheted up the defensive pressure and created more opportunities.
The new intensity paid off early in the second half when senior defender Kelsey Kimball Cook played a long ball forward into the attacking zone. Fellow senior Shalayne Janis corralled the ball, then nodded it on to a streaking Natalie Baker cutting to the left side. Baker, who set a single season UVU record for goals scored in 2011, withheld a defender to her left and curved a shot from 15 yards just inside the near post to level the score.
UTEP responded with a heightened offensive attack, sending a lot of shots late in the second half at Wolverine goalkeeper Jessica Duffin, who came on when starting goalie Lauren Sack left with an injury in the first half. The Miners would tally 17 shots in the second half and outshot UVU 30-8 in the game.
Duffin, a redshirt freshman seeing her first collegiate action, rose to the occasion, however, and finished the game with nine total saves.
"Over this past year Jessica has really stepped it up," Anderson said. "To get thrown into a game like this and have to face that many shots is certainly a challenge, but she stepped up and made some great saves."
UVU hits the road for the first time in 2012 when it heads to Honolulu, Hawai'i, for the OHANA Hotels & Suites No Ka Oi. The invitational pits the Wolverines against Sacred Heart on Wednesday and host Hawai'i the following Sunday.
Kellen Hiser is sports information assistant at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.
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