Texas looks to earn NCAA tournament bid

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Senior goalkeeper Abby Smith has allowed 0.88 goals per game this season, leading Texas to a 8-5-4 record. The Longhorns currently sit at third place in the Big 12 prior to their conference tournament match Wednesday against Kansas.
Photo Credit: Jack DuFon | Daily Texan Staff

Texas ended its regular season with a dominant 3-0 win against Montana on Friday. But its fate – and seed – was already determined a week earlier after consecutive losses to Baylor and Oklahoma. The losses dropped the Longhorns to third in the Big 12.

They now face Kansas on Wednesday at 8 p.m. in the Big 12 tournament quarterfinals.

Had the Longhorns won both games, no team could have knocked the Longhorns below second place.

But Texas lost both games. So even after its victory over the Grizzlies on Friday night, head coach Angela Kelly said Texas can
still improve.

“As a coach, you know, I just want us to play better every time,” Kelly said. “And we have a heck of an event coming up, and we’re going to get healthy and move forward to whoever we play on Wednesday.”

Coaches pegged Texas to finish sixth in the conference when the Big 12 preseason poll was released Aug. 12. They anticipated the Longhorns finishing behind West Virginia, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Kansas and Oklahoma.

Texas defied the coaches’ predictions two and a half months later.

“We just gotta make sure we’re focused and ready to come out and play,” senior goalkeeper Abby Smith said. “So it’s like coming together as a whole.”

The Longhorns need to do well in the Big 12 tournament to advance to the NCAA tournament. Their 8-5-4 record probably won’t earn them a bid if they get bounced out in the quarterfinals.

Texas has faced all Big 12 tournament contenders, faring 4-3-1 in eight matches. Other than a 2-0 shutout to West Virginia, the Longhorns came within one goal in each loss.

Players said they learn from the losses as well as the victories.  

“We just have to look back at our Big 12 season and look at how we played against our opponents,” senior forward Kelsey Shimmick said. “The one’s that we tied or lost, see what we can improve on. And the ones that we won, just like, stick to what we did best and just take it to them.”