EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- The UTEP soccer team earned a hard-fought 0-0 draw against undefeated Abilene Christian on the back of a five-save effort from goalkeeper Tionna Taylor at University Field Thursday evening.
The Miners (0-2-1) finished with eight shots, including two on goal, along with four corner kicks. The defense had a strong showing, successfully defending six corners from the Wildcats (2-0-1). The Orange and Blue also drew the opponent offsides twice in the game.
Seven different UTEP players registered a shot, led by Nicole Morales (two).
“Today was a continual quest for improvement in our identity,” head coach Gibbs Keeton said. “I think it shows from year to year when you lose to a team 4-0 and then come out and tie and really press for the win in the second half, that we are making strides in a positive direction. We seek more from all three of the games we’ve played, but we are showing that we are capable of playing with anybody right now. Being the underdog, that’s what you want. We want to be able to shake things up and impact a game with our ability. I’m proud of our second-half performance in all three of the games, and we really have some considerations for extending how good we can be. I think a lot of the teams in the country are seeking that consistency right now.”
Both teams traded shots early in the game, with Taylor making two saves in the opening five minutes. At the other end of the pitch, a shot from Mina Rodriguez went narrowly wide.
The Miner defense held firm against three corners in a six-minute span, not allowing a shot in the sequence. UTEP tested the Wildcat defense with a corner of its own in the eighth minute but was unable to find the back of the net.
In the 17th minute, Taylor punched out a shot by Hannah Vetromile. The Miners then fought off the ensuing corner.
UTEP went back on the offensive with a close-range shot from Leslie Gutierrez forcing the Wildcats to block it out for a corner. The home side could not connect on the service, and the match remained scoreless through 45 minutes.
The second half started out with some physical play, as four fouls were called in the first six minutes of the period.
Taylor continued a stout night in net, fending off a shot from Hannah Martin in the 53rd minute. Later, a foul on ACU set up a dangerous free kick from Emerson Kidd. Kidd blasted the shot from 25 yards out, but Wildcat keeper Julia Herges was able to contain it. Less than a minute later Morales fired a ball wide left. UTEP kept up the pressure with a shot by Caymen Tamez going high in the 69th minute and another by Morales a minute later being blocked away.
The Miners nearly broke the deadlock in the 78th minute when Ashlyn Neireiter drilled a shot low to the left corner, forcing Herges into a diving save. A foul on UTEP ended the threat on the corner that followed.
The last quality chance from either team came in the 85th minute when Taya Lopez hit a shot just wide.
UTEP wraps up its two-game homestand Sunday against Pac 12 member Arizona State at 1 p.m. MT.