Texas enters this weekend’s slate of competition fresh off Sunday’s bitter loss to No. 12 California, when the Longhorns fell on a controversial free kick goal in the 68th minute.
The team hits the road for the first time this season, facing its second-straight top-25 opponent on Friday against No. 19 Ohio State and Miami Ohio on Sunday.
“The first road trip is always exciting,” senior defender Isabelle Kerr said. “The freshmen haven’t experienced it before, and it’s a great time to bond. We’re really excited to get to play another ranked opponent. We feel very confident after playing Cal. We felt like we competed with them and had a chance to win, so we’re very excited for the trip.”
The Longhorns (3-2) aren’t holding their heads low. Texas hung with California for the majority of the match, sending 10 shots at the California net. Junior defender Monique Iannella said she believes it was a game to build on.
“I feel like we’re just at the start of our peak,” Iannella said. “Everyone’s playing together really well. We’re connecting well. We’re bonding really well as a team, so I’m really looking forward to traveling away with this team.”
The Longhorn offense has been a force to reckon with so far this season. They rank second in the Big 12 in goals per game, having scored 13 through their first five matches. But the defense has also got the job done, allowing just four goals — never more than one in a match.
Texas’ back line features three newcomers to the program this season, including freshmen Emma Jett and Atu Mshana, as well as Iannella, who hails from Australia. She came to the Longhorns in the offseason after playing professional soccer in Australia for three seasons.
“[The defense has] bonded super fast, which is awesome,” Kerr said. “A back line needs to have chemistry, and I feel like all of us are just connecting and communicating and organizing one another. We always talk about how we have each other’s backs, so that’s just been huge so far.”
This weekend’s road trip provides another opportunity for the team to continue to build that chemistry. Head coach Angela Kelly said the experiences created on the road are invaluable to a team.
“Anytime you have the opportunity to travel means you spend a lot of quality time with your teammates and the staff,” Kelly said. “I think the chemistry on our team is exceptional at the moment. As a staff, we’re truly enjoying spending time with this group of players. They’re very coachable, the leadership is great and they’re very excited to get better and better each and every day.”
Texas faces Ohio State on Friday at 4 p.m. and Miami Ohio on Sunday at noon.