UTSA Soccer drops game to UAB, remain winless in conference play

Sasjah+Dade+hits+a+cross+into+the+box+during+a+game+against+Houston.+Dade%2C+a+freshman%2C+has+started+all+nine+games+for+the+%27Runners+this+season+and+scored+her+first+career+goal+on+March+7+against+Houston+Baptist.

Ryan Garza

Sasjah Dade hits a cross into the box during a game against Houston. Dade, a freshman, has started all nine games for the ‘Runners this season and scored her first career goal on March 7 against Houston Baptist.

Ryder Martin, Sports Editor

UTSA soccer (2-6-1, C-USA 0-4-0) was on the road this weekend on Sunday, March 21, to take on the UAB Blazers (7-3-1, C-USA 2-1-0). Despite holding the advantage in both shots and shots on net, the ‘Runners fell to the Blazers by a final score of 1-2. The loss continues a frustrating trend for UTSA where an inability to convert their shots into goals leads to losses that could just as easily have been wins. 

UTSA got off to a good start early in the first half, with UTSA’s Lexi Bolton and Abby Kassal registering the first two shots of the game, although neither of them managed to find the target. On UAB’s second shot of the game in the 16th minute, a brutal bounce victimized the ‘Runners. The Blazers lined up for a free-kick from just across midfield and Sarah Buse’s cross arced its way into the box where it found the foot of Lexxe Lipsey, whose redirection on net put wicked spin on the ball, curling it around the outstretched arms of UTSA keeper Jil Schneider to sneak just inside the right post for the score. Down early in yet another game, UTSA fought themselves back in it during the final minutes of the first half. After a corner kick was denied by UAB but went out off a Blazer, UTSA’s second attempt could not be cleared completely out of the box by UAB. The floating ball found its way to Kiran Singh who chipped a beautiful ball with her back turned away from the goal to Deja Sandoval who headed the ball past UAB keeper Anika Toth for her second goal in as many games to tie the game at one. Heading into halftime, the ‘Runners held the advantage in shots 6-4 and corner kicks 3-2, demonstrating a much more consistent ability to come up with scoring chances.

Right out of the gate in the second half, UAB pressured with three straight corner kicks, but the UTSA defense held strong and denied UAB the chance at a set piece goal to keep the game tied. UTSA attempted to take their first lead of the game in the 51st minute as Alyssa Blankenship used a nice piece of footwork to open up a shooting lane from just outside of the 18-yard box, but her shot on the net could not find the mark, curling away from the far post and out wide for a goal kick. Blankenship again threatened in the 59th minute when she had a great look right in front of the face of goal, and her effort seemed destined for the back of the net, but Toth just got a fingertip on it to poke the ball wide. This close call loomed large as just six minutes later, in the 65th minute, UAB won a penalty inside the box after a handball by a UTSA defensive back. UAB’s Kamilah Mustafa took the penalty and drove it past Jil Schneider, who for the second straight game was caught guessing the opposite direction on the penalty shot. Now down to 1-2, the ‘Runners pushed the attack to make up the difference, and in the 68th minute, Singh put a shot on net that hit the top-left most part of the post to deflect out for a goal kick, narrowly missing a chance to tie the game back up. 

Still grasping on to a one-goal lead, UAB was content to sit back and defend for the last 15 minutes of the game, and that led to UTSA dominating possession but remaining relatively light on scoring chances. With time winding down in the 87th minute, UTSA secured back-to-back corner kicks but was unable to capitalize, with the first being knocked away by a UAB defender and the second leading to a header by Sandoval that just sailed over the top of the crossbar. These were UTSA’s final chances of the game, and they fell by a final score of 1-2.

The loss to UAB ensures UTSA will finish with a losing record in conference play this season and moves them dangerously close to being assured of missing the conference tournament at the end of the season. Two games remain on the conference schedule, however, against UTEP (3-4-1, C-USA 2-1) and North Texas (5-2, C-USA 2-1). With both teams sitting ahead of them in the conference standings, the ‘Runners could give themselves a fighting chance to make the tournament by beating those two teams. The ‘Runners will next be in action on Saturday, March 27, at home to take on UTEP. The game will be available to watch on CUSA.tv.