UT Women’s Soccer Eyes Big 12 Championship

With the 2012 season officially on the books, UT women’s soccer looks ahead to the Big 12 Championship and a possible spot in the NCAA tournament.

The Longhorns closed out the 2012 season Friday night against 19th-ranked West Virginia, losing the overtime nail-biter 1-0—but they aren’t done yet.

Nearly 1,600 devoted Longhorn fans braved the chilly weather to watch the closely-fought contest, which served as the final home game for seniors Kara Hoffman, Hannah Higgins, and Kristin Cummins.

Texas looked to strike early, with Cummins registering the team’s first shot in only the third minute. West Virginia countered immediately, putting a shot on target and calling freshman keeper Abby Smith into action. Despite the early pressure from both teams, the game settled into a defensive slog. The teams tallied only six combined shots in the first stanza of play.

The second half saw a Texas onslaught that was repeatedly stymied by the West Virginia defense. Higgins led the attack, recording three shots–one of which barely sailed over the crossbar. The Longhorns ended the second half with a pair of shots from freshman Chantale Campbell, both of which were blocked inside the box. “I just want to see us put the game away,” head coach Angela Kelley told Top Drawer Soccer. “That’s the final stage of maturing.”

Texas’ back line, anchored by Hoffman, was characteristically stingy, allowing the Mountaineers seven total shots and requiring only two saves. By contrast, the ‘Horns recorded 11 shots in the contest and forced WVU goalie Sara Keane to make seven saves.

The game remained scoreless throughout regulation play and went into overtime. Eight minutes in, the Mountaineers’ Kara Blosser finally broke the tie, netting a goal and ending the match 1-0.

Texas women’ soccer finishes its 2012 campaign with an overall record of 7-10-1 and 4-4-0 in conference play. Though many expected a year of transition for the young Texas squad, the team garnered its most conference victories since 2010 with first-year head coach Angela Kelly at the helm. With its 16th consecutive Big 12 Championship berth, Texas remains the only conference team to have qualified for the tournament every year since its inception in 1996.

Despite Friday night’s result, Kelly remains optimistic going into the Big 12 Championship.

“From tonight, it’s win and advance,” she said, “whether you’re 18-0, whether you’re 2-16. That’s the beauty of cup time.”

The tournament will consist of eight teams—meaning Texas soccer is a mere three games away from claiming its first Big 12 tournament crown since 2007. The winner of the conference championship receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, which the ‘Horns have missed only once in the past 11 seasons.

The fourth-seeded Longhorns will travel to San Antonio’s Blossom Soccer Stadium, where they will begin Big 12 tournament competition against Oklahoma at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 31.  The two teams met once in the regular season, resulting in a Texas win by a narrow margin of 1-0.

Should the Longhorns advance, they will play in the semifinal game at 5:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 2. The Big 12 Championship game is set to take place at 1 p.m. on Nov. 4.

Senior Kristin Cummins. Photo courtesy UT Athletics.

 

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