Virginia Tech brought winter with it on a cold, windy Friday night. The Hokies brought down the Longhorns, 1-0, ending their 2018 postseason. This is the first time since 2011 that Texas was knocked out of the NCAA Championship in the first round.
“Obviously, it's a very disappointing result to say the least,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “We had plenty of chances in this game specifically in the first half, to put one away.”
Although both teams racked up seven shots in the first half, Texas wasted zero time exploiting Virginia Tech’s defense and maintaining possession. In the 11th minute, forward Cydney Billups outran her defender and delivered a stunning cross to forward Alexa Adams.
Both players consistently beat Virginia Tech’s defenders to the ball, resulting in Adams racking up three shots by the end of the first half.
This momentum was mirrored by midfielder Katie Glenn, who almost scored after Adams headed it right to her feet. The bottom right post shot was deflected by Virginia Tech goalkeeper Mandy McGlynn with an incredible split-save.
Within the first ten minutes of the game, the teams collectively stacked up four fouls: two for Texas, one for Virginia.
Yet, Texas had plenty of opportunities. In fact, the Longhorns had a 10–1–1 record when they score first.
However, their energy seemingly disappeared in the second half.
“We had a lot of opportunities,” Adams said. “We just didn’t capitalize. We needed that same (first-half) energy when we started the second half.”
In the second half, the Longhorns were outshot 6-4, and the Hokies only had one save on goal.
Most importantly, however, is that Texas could not prevent a Virginia Tech counterattack during the 67th minute. A Texas turnover led to an offensive buildup by the Hokies and made way for the final 19-yard goal.
The goal passed inches from goalkeeper Nicole Curry’s right leg, a usual rock for the Longhorns with seventeen career shutouts.
“My initial thought every time we get scored on is, it doesn’t matter how much time is left. We’ve done it before, we’ve scored with one minute left in the game.” Curry said. “But, as time starts running down and as time is getting closer, you can’t help but think, ‘What’s going on?’”
The team was missing star forward Cyera Hintzen from their starting roster. The junior has been struggling with a minor injury for weeks now. It wasn’t until the 73rd minute she subbed in.
“I think that her walking on the field impacts the game,” Kelly said.
However, she too was unable to keep the Longhorns’ NCAA hopes alive.
The Texas women’s soccer season has now come to a conclusion with a 13–5–3 record. But for players like Curry who are returning next year, there is more than optimism for next season’s campaign.
“I have so much belief in my team and we are capable of anything,” Curry said. “I’ve seen it before, I’ll see it again, just didn’t come out tonight and that’s okay. We’ll learn.”