Texas women’s soccer sailed through the first six games of the season without making an appearance in the loser’s column.
However, the Longhorns’ remaining 13 games were a turbulent series of contests that saw Texas go 6-7-0, including a 3-1 road loss at the hands of a struggling TCU team and a loss against Oklahoma State to close out the regular season.
None of that will matter Wednesday. The Longhorns can forget their tumultuous regular season and look to make an impact in the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 tournament against No. 10 Texas Tech at 2 p.m. in Kansas City, Missouri.
“We have a new season starting on Wednesday in the Big 12 tournament, and that’s our focus,” senior midfielder Sharis Lachappelle said. “We’re going to put [the Oklahoma State loss] behind us and go and win that tournament.”
The Longhorns and Red Raiders met in Austin in a September tilt that served as the high-water mark in Texas’ 2014 campaign. That contest saw freshman Olivia Brook score the golden goal, which led Texas to an overtime upset against a 9-0 Red Raider team that was the sixth-ranked team in the nation at the time.
Things slowly went downhill from that point in the season, but the Longhorns have gone through somewhat of resurgence in recent weeks. They knocked off Oklahoma and Baylor in consecutive road contests during the waning games of the season, and the once stagnant offense showed some welcome signs of life toward the end of the season.
The Red Raiders are coming in to the tournament on a torrid streak of four consecutive wins, including a 6-1 dismantling of Iowa State on Sunday.
The Texas Tech offense has been on point all season, averaging 1.94 goals and 17.6 shots per game. Junior forward Janine Beckie, the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year, spearheads the Red Raider attack with a team-leading 13 goals.
The Longhorn defense, led by senior defender Brooke Gilbert, has the challenge of going against one of the most balanced teams in the conference. Senior defender Jaelene Hinkle of Texas Tech earned her fourth first-team All-Big 12 selection and was one of six Red Raiders on All-Big 12 teams.
If the Longhorns are to deal a second loss to end the Red Raiders’ season, it will likely come at the gloves of junior goalkeeper Abby Smith. She closed the regular season with a career-high 10-save performance against Oklahoma State, helping earn her first team All-Big 12 honors.
Even if Texas isn’t able to beat Texas Tech, it still has a slim chance of making the NCAA tournament, but the Longhorns’ spot will only be guaranteed if they can pull off a victory in the quarterfinal round and then go on to become Big 12 champions.
“The season is just beginning,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “Everybody’s heading to Kansas City to win the tournament. We’re going to take it [one] game at a time.”