Tigers Fall Just Short, Lose to UTEP 3-2
Oct. 2, 2005
Memphis, Tenn. - UTEP scored two second-half goals just under six minutes apart in the second half to go up 3-1 and then withstood the Memphis pressure at the end of the game to top the Tigers 3-2. Memphis falls to 1-1 in Conference USA play with the loss and to 7-4 overall.
The Miners, who were undefeated at 11-0-1 entering the game, got on the scoreboard first at the 10:11 mark when Brandi Aston kicked in a cross from Kia Sams. Sams crossed it from the right side of the goal to Aston, who was waiting just outside the left post and put it in the upper left corner. The Tigers responded a little more than five minutes later when Asuka Kubota kicked in a cross from Nicky McLeod on a play similar to UTEP's goal. After McLeod had a shot saved, she took in the rebound on the right side and crossed it to Kubota on the left, who was oncoming from the top of the box. It was Kubota's fifth goal of the year and McLeod's team-leading sixth assist of the year.
Things remained 1-1 at halftime as Memphis held the slight advantage in shots 11-10 at the half. Memphis nearly had taken the lead midway through the first half when UTEP keeper Brittany Popoff had come out of the goal to try to intercept a ball put into the box. But Memphis took control of the ball with an empty net. Shoko Mikami hit the left post on a shot, however, and the rebound was cleared by a Miner defender.
UTEP took the lead at the 57:39 mark as Jami Tullius scored her tenth goal of the season. Sams was credited with her second assist as she crossed the ball to Tullius at the top of the box, who one-timed it past Tiger keeper Isabel Briones. The Miners made it 3-1 at 62:24 as Cara Nordin scored an unassisted goal when she was able to dribble through the defense from the right side to the middle of the field and shot it from nearly the same place as Tullius and into the upper right corner of the goal.
Memphis got one goal back at the 66:04 mark when Mikami scored her team-leading 13th goal of the season. Kubota put a perfectly-placed pass through the box to Mikami, who beat Popoff one-on-one. It was the third time this year that Mikami has scored goals in back-to-back games.
"Our effort was good but our energy level was just a step down from Friday night," said Memphis coach Brooks Monaghan. "UTEP took advantage of our defensive mistakes and we just couldn't quite put one more in at the end. They did a good job of cutting off our passes and making it difficult for us to move on the offensive end."
Briones made five saves in taking the loss for Memphis, included one at point blank range late in the second half to preserve the 3-2 game. Popoff was forced to make eight saves for UTEP. The teams each had 20 shots, with Memphis putting 10 of its shots on goal and UTEP having eight.
Memphis will hit the road next weekend for its second weekend of C-USA play, playing at East Carolina on Friday afternoon and at Marshall on Sunday.
Postgame Notes: McLeod now leads the Tigers in assists with six through 11 games ... Memphis' leader in assists last year also had six in 19 games ... The Tigers have now had two players record goals in at least two straight games four times. Mikami has done it three times and Kylie Hayes once ... Hayes was held without a goal for just third time in 11 contests this year ... Memphis has never began Conference USA play 2-0. The Tigers are now 1-1 in C-USA play for the second straight year.