It’s clear from the box score that the women's soccer team lost its third game in a row 1-0 against No. 1 UCLA on Friday. That being said, Texas gave the defending national champion its best challenge of the season thus far, and a 2-0 win on Sunday over Texas State should quell any fears of a stagnant offense. Texas’ performance against collegiate elite showed this team has the necessary attributes to make a run in the postseason.
“If that’s the number one team in the country, I’m really excited about where we are,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “We’re just going to crank up the tempo, crank up the heat and continue to move forward.”
As soon as the Longhorns kicked off to start the game, UCLA stole the ball away and hoverd dangerously around the Texas goal. The Longhorn defenders sprinted around the field to pressure the Bruins, but less than three minutes into regulation, Bruin senior midfielder Sam Mewis received a line drive cross right in front of the Texas net and tapped it in to take an early lead.
The Longhorns’ tight press defense continued after conceding the goal, but the offense failed to harness Texas’ energy and hustle. The Longhorns charged forward when they gained possession, but when they rushed the follow-up passes, UCLA defenders positioned themselves to regain possession.
“We were intercepting passes in the first half, and we weren’t having the confidence on the ball to execute a second pass,” Kelly said. “Now we just have to have composure in the mid to the attacking third with the final pass.”
The Texas offense settled down in the second half and began stringing together passes for some extended possession. Four of the Longhorns’ five shots in the game came in the second half, as did all three of their shots on goal.
Three shots on goal may seem like a disappointing total, but that is the highest total that the smothering UCLA defense had allowed on the season since Pepperdine managed two shots on goal.
The Longhorns’ best chance of the night came with 24 minutes remaining, when senior midfielder Sharis Lachapelle slid to meet a cross with only the goalie between her and pay dirt. The shot, however, popped up harmlessly for an easy save by UCLA senior keeper Katelyn Rowland.
The Bruins had a flurry of shots to end the game, but a diving save by junior keeper Abby Smith and high pressure from the Texas defenders held the Bruins scoreless for 87 minutes after their initial goal.
“We kept them in front and besides that one opportunity, I think we did well,” Smith said. “We created a new standard for ourselves.”
The Longhorns lived up to that new standard Sunday when they defeated Texas State 2-0. Lachapelle and sophomore forward Jasmine Hart provided the scoring and helped Texas unleash 26 shots, including 11 on goal.
Texas’ next action comes Friday at 7 p.m. in the Big 12 opener at home against Texas Tech.