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UTEP Soccer Punches Ticket To C-USA Championship Game

MEMPHIS, TENN. ? The UTEP soccer team kept its run alive at the 2011 C-USA Championships by advancing into the finals on penalty kicks (0-0;3-1) over Rice Friday evening.

Freshman netminder Sarah Dilling turned away three of four Owls? (10-7-4) PK attempts while Tess Hall, Brittany Kindzierski and Katie Dorman all converted chances to propel the Miners (11-7-4) into their third conference tournament championship appearance in program history. UTEP played for a Western Athletic Conference title in 2002 and vied for a C-USA crown in 2005.

The Miners will take on either East Carolina or No. 4 Memphis in the nationally-televised (CBS Sports Network) match which is slated to get underway at 12 p.m. MT Sunday.

?It was a tough match,? head UTEP soccer coach Kevin Cross said. ?Rice is a tough team to score on. It is a great team, and we gave everything we had out there. Penalty kicks are the worst way to lose, and we know that feeling. Sarah Dilling has been absolutely huge for us this year. She was a difference maker in the quarterfinals, and she played big for us again tonight. Credit to her.?

The two teams battled to a scoreless tie through 110 minutes, with Dilling registering five saves to do her part. Rice?s Amy Czyz contributed three stops in posting a clean sheet, and as result, the match was headed to penalty kicks.

The Miners immediately grabbed momentum, with Dilling denying Alexandra Trenary with a right-hand save even as she leaned to her left. UTEP then capitalized on the stop with Hall calmly burying the Orange and Blue?s initial attempt to put her squad up, 1-0, after the first round.

Lauren LaGro managed to best Dilling to pull the Owls even, but it was short-lived thanks to Kindzierski putting away her chance with a quality strike to keep the Miners up one (2-1) after two rounds. Round three belonged to the keepers, with Dilling stoning her fellow GK Czyz and then Czyz keeping out a shot by freshman Amanda Pak.

Dilling then delivered her biggest save of the match, turning away a shot from Alex Burton to put the Miners on the verge of victory. It was only fitting that the senior Dorman was up next for UTEP. She rocketed home a shot into upper 90?s country, setting off the Orange and Blue celebration.

The Miners controlled the opening period behind solid marking and good ball movement on the way to outshooting the Owls, 7-3, over the first 45 minutes. UTEP was forced to settle for being deadlocked at the half, though.

In the second stanza Rice began to find some offensive rhythm, but Dilling and the defense did not budge. The Owls registered eight shots to the pair by UTEP, but the match remained tied through 90 minutes.

In the extra sessions both teams came up with some chances, but neither could find a way to finish as this contest was destined for PKs.

Source: UTEP Athletics

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