“We had everything today. A little sunshine, a little wind, a little rain, had some goals, some back-and-forth,” stated SUU head coach Becky Hogan. “UTEP is a run-and-gun, in your face, aggressive team, which is what we are going to see a lot of in the Big Sky. It was perfect to come out and see how we were going to weather that type of storm.”
The Thunderbirds came out firing, outshooting UTEP by a count of 10-7 in the opening period. One of those tries found the back of the net as freshman Chandler Yost collected a ball played into the box by Alyssa Gomez and chipped it across the goal line to give Southern Utah a 1-0 lead in the 32nd minute. The Miners came back for an equalizer just a few minutes later however as Azia Nicholson scored on a cross from Angela Cutaia to knot things up at 1-1 heading into the break.
The match remained deadlocked until a late penalty call set up an indirect kick from the top left corner of the box for UTEP in the closing minutes. Brianna Barreiro was able to bend a shot on frame and through the hands of SUU goalkeeper Elyssa Hashimoto for the go-ahead goal to clinch the 2-1 win.
Yost’s score made her the 12th Thunderbird to record a goal this season while the assist from Gomez was her team-leading third of the year. The game was a tightly contested matchup with SUU holding a 13-12 shooting advantage while the Miners held a 4-3 edge on corner kicks.
“I think we have a group of people that battle and fight, and they work together really well,” commented Hogan. “From top-to-bottom we have people that contribute, that can get the job done at any position. We have come a long way.”
Southern Utah continues its five-game homestand next week by opening Big Sky Conference play against Northern Arizona on Saturday at 1:00 p.m. Coverage of SUU soccer is available at www.suutbirds.com.