Abby Smith

Junior goalie Abby Smith scored her second career goal earlier this season against Arizona State. The Texas and U-23 national team keeper has balanced her two roles, working to become a leader of the Texas team.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Most goalies are relegated to preventing goals, but keeper Abby Smith is asked to score them.   

In last weekend’s contest against Arizona State, the junior rocketed a 45-yard free kick into the back of the net for her second career goal and then returned to her own side of the field and proceeded to record three saves in a double overtime draw. 

“Her ability to be a weapon on the offensive side of things is something that 99 percent of the other coaches in the country don’t have,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “As teams are trying to prepare for her ability in-goal, they are also trying to prepare for her as an offensive threat.” 

Smith’s goals make for stylish highlights, but it’s her talent as a shot stopper that makes her an essential asset in Texas’ quest for an NCAA Tournament appearance. Last weekend, Smith notched 12 saves over the two-game homestand and held No. 22 Arkansas scoreless in a 120-minute draw. 

The strong performance earned Smith a spot on Top Drawer Soccer’s National Team of the Week. 

Smith is used to national recognition by now. In 2009, she caught the attention of the US Women’s National Team coaches, who named her to the national under-17 squad. 

Since then, she has been a fixture in the USA system and earned a spot on the 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cup team. She currently represents her country in the U-23 circuit, and the addition of Women’s World Cup champion and former USWNT star Kristine Lilly to the Texas coaching staff should help Smith in her climb to the senior team. 

Despite these different commitments, the star goalkeeper is not held back by conflicting interests or caught between two coaches playing tug-of-war for her focus. 

“[The national team] is really understanding,” Smith said. “UT has been great with working with it and helping me out.”

Kelly views national team exposure as an invaluable experience for her veteran keeper. 

“Nothing conflicts with representing your country,” Kelly said. “That’s why you prepare. Any time that Abby is selected, we are going to be so excited to support her.” 

Smith’s collegiate and international experience has earned the attention and respect of the underclassmen and thrust new leadership responsibilities onto the junior. 

“[My role] changed a little bit just because the underclassmen look up to the upperclassmen,” Smith said. “If something’s going wrong, they ask [me] or they ask the leaders on the team.” 

It is hard to find an area that Smith needs to improve upon now that veteran leadership has been added to her resume that already includes elite goal-keeping skills and the ability to contribute to the offense. But Smith looks forward to her years ahead.

“The only thing that Abby could do for herself is expedite time,” Kelly said. “The best days in a goalkeeper’s career are [ages] 28,29 [and] 30. We’re just excited that we get to spend four years with her, and she’s representing Texas.” 

Texas soccer finished its regular season campaign with a 1-0 loss at No. 12 Texas Tech on Friday night.

While sophomore goalie Abby Smith had one of her best games of the year, an early misplay doomed the Longhorns.

In the third minute, Smith misjudged a long Red Raiders pass, allowing Tech’s Janine Beckie to put home an uncontested goal. Bouncing back, Smith redeemed herself with saves in the 16th and 20th minute to keep the Texas Tech lead to only one point.

But the Longhorn offense found it difficult to get anything going against the Red Raiders. After outshooting opponents 269 to 168 coming into the match, Texas only managed to fire off eight total shots and only two of those coming on goal, both in the first half.

The Red Raiders, on the other hand, had no problem with their offense, firing off 17 total shots, including eight shots on goal. Beckie led Texas Tech with three shots on goal and the lone goal of the game.

It was also a physical game with both teams combining for 25 fouls and six yellow cards. Sophomore forward Kelsey Shimmick received a red card in the 77th minute for a high boot into the Red Raider goalie.

With the loss, Texas (12-5-2, 5-2-1 Big 12) finishes third in the Big 12, the highest its finished in the conference since 2007. The Longhorns’ conference record is the team’s best since 2008.

Texas will face Oklahoma State in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament on Wednesday at 2 p.m. in Kansas City, Mo. The Longhorns managed a draw in their lone meeting against the Cowgirls in Stillwater, Okla., earlier this year.

After opening up Big 12 play 2-0, the Longhorns split a pair this weekend on the road, losing to West Virginia 2-1 and defeating Kansas 1-0.

Texas (9-4-1, 3-1-0 Big 12) fell behind early in Morgantown Friday when the Mountaineers’ Frances Silva beat sophomore goalie Abby Smith with a shot to the far post in the 16th minute. Silva beat Smith again just 32 seconds into the second half, giving West Virginia (9-2-2, 3-0 Big 12) a 2-0 lead. 

The Longhorns fought back with a goal from sophomore midfielder Lindsey Meyer, who headed in a free kick from senior midfielder Gabby Zarnegar in the 50th minute, but were unable to add the equalizer, suffering their first conference loss.

For only the second time this season, the Longhorns were outshot in the match. Texas managed to get off six shots and four shots on goal while West Virginia fired 16 shots and seven shots on goal.

Sunday, against Kansas, Texas had a hard time finishing shots but was able to shut out the Jayhawks.

The Longhorns fired 15 shots and eight on goal, but it was sophomore midfielder Aaron Strawser’s shot that snuck over Jayhawks keeper Kaitlyn Stroud with just under five minutes left and found the back of the net to give Texas the win.

Kansas (5-6-2, 0-1-1 Big 12) had 12 shots of their own, but Smith stopped all three shots on goal to record her sixth shutout of the season and the 13th of her career.

The Longhorns remain tied with the Mountaineers in points atop the Big 12 standings but are a half-game behind, record-wise.

Texas returns home to continue conference play against Baylor on Friday night.

Texas couldn’t have asked for much more from its first two home games of the season.

Coming off a 6-1 blowout of Texas A&M-Corpus Christi in its only preseason contest, the Longhorns kicked off the 2013 season in impressive fashion, earning a win and a draw in its first pair of regular-season games this weekend. 

Texas opened its 2013 campaign Friday night with a 2-0 victory over Georgia at Mike A. Myers Track and Soccer Stadium.

The Longhorns got off to a quick start after a Georgia foul put Texas in a great position to score. Junior midfielder Sharis Lachappelle took the free kick from just left of the box, propelling it toward the box. From there, sophomore Lindsey Meyer headed the ball toward junior defender Brooke Gilbert, who finished the set piece with a tap in for the third goal of her career. 

Meyer, who recorded an assist on the first goal, was just getting started.

The midfielder from Coppell added to the Longhorns’ lead early in the second half. Meyer headed the ball following a corner kick from forward Kelsey Shimmick. The Bulldog’s goalkeeper blocked it right back to Meyer, who tapped in for an easy score and a 2-0 Texas lead.

Texas outshot Georgia 17-7 and sophomore goalkeeper Abby Smith posted her eighth career shutout for the Longhorns.

Sunday marked the second game of the weekend and ended in a 1-1 draw against the University of South Florida at Myers Stadium.

After a slow first half, Texas scored in spectacular fashion early in the second half. A USF foul in the 64th minute gave the Longhorns a free kick from 50 yards out. With the ball being so far from the goal, Texas called on Smith, the goaltender, to take the kick. With everyone expecting her to simply move the ball up, Smith took a shot and scored her first career goal, giving the Longhorns a 1-0 lead.

Texas’ lead did not last long as USF’s Sarah Miller slipped one past Smith five minutes later, evening the score at 1-1.

The game would then go into double overtime before ending in a draw. The physical, defensive-minded match featured 26 fouls.

The team will now head northwest to Oregon for its first road trip of the season. The Longhorns will take on Oregon State in Corvallis on Friday before heading to Eugene to take on the Oregon Ducks on Sunday. Both games are scheduled to start at 2 p.m. 

Angela Kelly and her Longhorns were slated to finish sixth in the Big 12: they finished fourth. Still, the team failed to make the NCAA tournament. However, Kelly still feels the future is bright with Texas soccer.

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

Following two scoreless halves and overtime, TCU gained a 4-2 edge in the penalty shootout to end Texas’ season earlier this month.

In the Big 12 preseason poll, the Longhorns were picked to finish sixth in the conference. But it was not looking good for them heading into Big 12 play. Texas had a difficult non-conference slate, which resulted in a 4-6-1 record that included a pair of big losses to Virginia and BYU that put a bleaker sheen around the start.

But in the final non-conference weekend, Texas turned the corner. Freshman goalkeeper Abby Smith returned from her stint with the U.S. U-20

Women’s National team and provided a significant spark.

Her first career start was also her first career shutout against Fresno State. Two days later, a solid Denver team, fresh off a win over Kansas, couldn’t get out of Austin with a victory, as Texas forced a tie to claim some momentum entering conference play.

Texas used that momentum to put together a 4-4 record in conference play that gave it a fourth place finish in the Big 12, two higher than predicted.

All of Texas’ conference losses came by a single goal, with several of them coming in extra time, far removed from the 3-0 and 5-0 losses it suffered in non-conference play.

“I was very pleased with the progress of the team,” Texas’ first-year head coach Angela Kelly said. “And the cohesion, the adaptability to new concepts and new system and the way in which we grew as a unit and were able to perform and play the way we were at the end of the season.”

Texas may have ended with four conference losses, but none of them were nearly as scathing as some non-conference ones. Texas did not allow a single opponent more than two goals, and only allowed one first half goal to a Big 12 team.

With her inaugural season complete, Kelly is building toward the future of the program. As with any first-year head coach, there is always some groundwork to lay out before the team can really flourish.

“The game of soccer is very simple.” Kelly said. “We don’t need to make it complex, but until we know who we are and what our foundation is, it doesn’t make sense to move onto a different level of tactics.”

With 20 returning starters, Texas will have a very experienced team full of talent next season. Smith and sophomore Sharis Lachappelle both received second team All-Big 12 honors and are joined by freshmen Ali Schmalz and Lindsey Meyer as All-Big 12 newcomers this season. In addition, sophomore defender Brooke Gilbert and freshman forward Kelsey Shimmick were selected to the All-Tournament team for the Big 12 championship. So there is plenty of returning talent for the team.

But Kelly is looking for more. Since the end of the season, she has been on the recruiting trail to get more talent for the 40 Acres.

“We want to get the best soccer players in the country to come to the University of Texas,” Kelly said.

She acknowledges that the standards are high at Texas. Championships are expected on all athletic fronts, and Kelly knows that her team will have to work for it.
With so many returning players, Texas can work in the spring as it would in the fall with a full roster.

“We can make this whole entire program and team stronger,” Kelly said. “The mentality can continue to grow.”

With the team’s growth this season, Kelly and the Longhorns are ready to take on a major role in the ever-changing Big 12. She has build a solid foundation, with plenty of talent, and is looking forward to what this team will become while she is at the helm.

“The future for Texas women’s soccer is very, very bright,” Kelly said. 

Printed on Tuesday, November 20, 2012 as: Kelly looks forward after early exit

Women's Soccer

Abby Smith missed the first portion of the season while playing with the U.S. under 20 team in the World Cup. Her immediate impact has turned around Texas’ season (Daily Texan file photo).

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

With three shutouts under her belt, Abby Smith has quickly made her mark on the Texas program. She missed most of the nonconference schedule while playing internationally with the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National team. While Texas was at home fighting through a scoring slump, Smith was part of the U.S. team competing for the World Cup in Japan.

“Being with the U20 girls helped a lot,” Smith said. “Being over there because the speed of play is a lot faster, and coming back over here it’s also a high level.”

A 3-0 loss to Germany sent the U.S. in the quarterfinals as the second team from its group, but wins over North Korea and Nigeria set up the rematch with Germany in the final. The U.S. would not fall a second time and took the gold with a 1-0 win in the final Sept. 8.

Meanwhile, Texas had just completed a road trip through Utah that saw it shut out by both BYU and Utah while giving up six goals for its fifth and sixth losses of the season. Smith joined Texas for the first time with the Longhorns riding a four-game losing streak. Her presence would change that.

Smith shut out her first opponent as Texas rolled to a 3-0 win over Fresno State in Austin. Her next game was not quite as comfortable, as Denver came in fresh off of a win over Kansas and scored three goals on Smith. But Texas answered with three goals of its own to force the tie.

“[Getting Smith back] is huge. It helps tremendously,” sophomore Whitney Jaynes said. “Her communication is awesome. Coming from someone who plays in the back line, it helps so much. You just have this trust in her.”

Having only played two games as a Longhorn, Smith was thrown into conference play on the road against Iowa State and Oklahoma, and she did not disappoint. She recorded six saves on the way to shutouts of both Iowa State and Oklahoma as Texas went from the cellar to the penthouse in the Big 12 standings.

Despite being only a freshman and missing most of the offseason, Smith has gotten off to a fast start thanks to her time overseas with the U20 team. But Smith’s time away has not dampened her expectations.

“I expected all the girls to be ready to go, and obviously we were because we won two big games,” Smith said. ”Our expectations are on both sides because they were expecting me to be ready and I was expecting them to be ready for the game, and we were.”

Smith brought new energy to the Longhorns who were struggling through their first season under head coach Angela Kelly. But Kelly was not worried. A similar start in her first season at Tennessee had prepared her for the ups and downs that came along with the grind of the season.

Now Texas must prepare for what may be its biggest test of the season. The Longhorns host Oklahoma State Friday. While the Cowgirls are off to a rough start in Big 12 play, they are still the defending regular season champions and are one of the best teams in the conference. They are one of only three teams in the Big 12 with at least 10 wins and are the highest-ranked team in the conference at No. 22. But Texas has had the week off to prepare for the Cowgirls’ attack, but more importantly, it’s given Smith a week off to rest.

“We chose not to schedule a game this weekend knowing that Abby Smith would have to be emotionally and physically responding to what would hopefully be a World Cup victory,” Kelly said.

With the World Cup running into early September, Smith has played 23 games since February while traveling all over the world.

Texas and Oklahoma State will kick off Friday at 7 p.m.

Printed on Friday, October 5, 2012 as: Smith gives Texas new energy