Head soccer coach Angela Kelly had seen it before. The ball 45 yards or more from the goal, a player gives it a moonbeam of a kick. The fans eye the floating ball, the players run to where it might land, and the opposite goalkeeper tries to track the ball in descent.
The ball goes past her, and fans erupt in cheers. Teammates become a frenzied mob, the opponents wonder what just happened, and the 5-foot-9 goalkeeper with a cannon for a leg is left stunned like everyone else.
“I was super surprised [when the shot against Miami went in],” senior goalkeeper Abby Smith said.
Smith became a household name over the weekend after scoring a 90-yard goal in a 1–0 win over the Miami Hurricanes on Sunday.
“I think it was amazing,” redshirt freshman Mikayla Flores said. “I really don’t think any other keeper could have done that.”
Smith has made headlines for scoring goals from a position that is notoriously known for stopping them.
“People say I’ve done it before, but it’s always a surprise each time,” Smith said.
She has done it before — three times to be exact.
Her first goal came in her sophomore year, against Southern Florida. In the 64th minute of the match, she blasted a 50-yard free kick that went over the USF goalkeeper’s head and into the goal in a game that ended in a 1-1 tie.
Smith scored her second career goal a little less than a year later with a just under distance than her previous one. In Texas’ first game of the season against Arizona State, at the 24-minute mark, Smith launched a 45-yard shot toward the goal. The story ends the same way: the ball got behind the goalkeeper and went into the net. This game, like the game against USF her previous season, ended in a tie.
So it was only fitting that her goal against the Hurricanes on Sunday broke a tie and fueled the win. Smith’s goals all follow the same narrative — that tales of her amazing feat border on folklore.
“[It’s] just a lot of training,” Smith said. “It’s learning and repetition and making mistakes and moving on from those mistakes. So I think that that has a lot to do with it, a lot of training. Not just like on the field but weight training.”
She can train all she wants and move on all she can, but her feat is still amazing.
“I don’t think that you’ll be able to find another goalkeeper at any level — male or female — that has scored the season-opening goal two years in a row and has three career goals in a four-year career,” Kelly said. “That is incredibly special. It’s incredibly special in women’s collegiate soccer, and it’s incredibly special in the soccer world.”
It is special in the soccer world, and “it’s not something that you’re used to every time,” Smith added.
Smith may not be used to it, but Kelly wouldn’t mind seeing it again.