Kristen Birkhold

No. 25 Texas finished its regular season with a well-played double overtime tie against regular season Big 12 champion Texas A&M.

Revenge was on the Longhorn’s mind after losing to the Aggies in the Big 12 semifinals 5-0 last season.

The teams were well matched, but the Longhorns played strong, especially defensively, and maintained possession for much of the game. This tie puts the Longhorns in the fifth seed for the Big 12 championships and they will face Oklahoma on Wednesday.

The Aggies took the lead in the 12th minute after Rachel Shipley sent the ball to Alyssa Mautz in the corner. Mautz sent a cross that hit the top cross bar, goalie Alexa Gaul got a hand on it, but could not stop it from going into the net.

Only one minute later, Kylie Doniak, who has had a goal or an assist in each of the last six games, responded by half-volleying a pass from Kristen Birkhold into the top left corner.

“I just knew after they got that goal that we just needed to get shots off,” Doniak said. “We needed to test the keeper and see what she’s about. You can’t score unless you shoot so I wanted to get something on it first and it just, God willing, [it] went in.”

Sophomore Hannah Higgins had a close opportunity when A&M goalie Kelly Dyer was taken down by her own teammate. Higgins got a head on the ball, but it landed in the arms of Dyer on the ground.

Soon after, A&M had a couple of great chances within a period of 15 seconds. Consecutive shots by Rachel Shipley and Alyssa Mautz were both stopped by Gaul.

A series of three corner kicks by Doniak led to some close chances for Longhorns Lucy Keith and Kristen Birkhold, but they could not capitalize.

“It’s a little but frustrating because we would have liked to win,” Doniak said. “Obviously we felt that we played really well tonight and we definitely had the chance to get another goal. We are going to work hard and hopefully beat them the next time we see them.”

Head coach Chris Petrucelli said the Longhorn defense played well and that they limited the amount of chances the Aggies had.

“The goal was a little unfortunate,” Petrucelli said. “She obviously was crossing the ball. It was a hard fought game and both teams played very well. They’re obviously a quality team and we were even with them.”

Petrucelli said the defense played well all around and both Erica Campanelli and Sophie Campise were strong on the outside even though they faced multiple one-on-one situations.

“Lucy [Keith] and Nina [Pederson] in the center were really good dealing with both Norah [Skelton] and Whitney [Hooper] who are really dangerous players,” Petrucelli said.

Although the Longhorns play a slower, more controlled game than the Aggies, coach Petrucelli was impressed with the team’s play.
 

In an aggressive, defense-focused game, Kylie Doniak led the Longhorns to the team’s biggest wins of the season against No. 5 Oklahoma State and lifted the Longhorns to a tie for fourth place in the Big 12.

Throughout the game, OSU continually attempted to send through balls to Krista Lopez - the second leading goal scorer in the Big 12 this year.

In the 23rd minute, OSU had a close opportunity when a corner kick by Katie Richardson led to a scramble in the box and a shot by Lopez which required a save on the line from junior Lucy Keith.

Later in the half, Keith sent a long ball to Stacy Ann Smith, who used her speed to her advantage and cut across two defenders in the penalty box, but it was saved by goalie Adrianna Franch.

 “[Our goal in the second half was] Getting the ball on the ground, passing it and making them play our game,” Doniak said. “It helped having the wind in the second half.”

Both Sophie Campise and Keith missed opportunities in the beginning of the second half.

The crowd came alive in the 55th minute when Kristen Birkhold took a shot from outside the box that went to the lower left corner, but was saved by Franch.

Texas took the lead in the 64th minute when Birkhold’s back-post cross found its way to Doniak and she headed the ball into the net.

“At halftime I just told Burkey [Birkhold] ‘get it down the sideline and beat that girl and get those crosses.’ She always serves perfect crosses,” Doniak said.

The Longhorns had a final opportunity in the 87th minute when Lucy Keith sent a long ball to unmarked Gabby Zarnegar but goalie Franch made the diving save.

Although the win is huge for the team, Lucy Keith said the joy will be short-lived because the team plays Oklahoma on Sunday.

 “You can’t get too comfortable,” Keith said.

Head coach Chris Petrucelli said the team needs to utilize its front players more.

“We worked a lot on trying to get balls into our front players and playing off of them,” Keith said. “We didn’t have a lot of success with that in the first half.”

During halftime, he talked about the team getting the ball wide and behind the OSU defense.

“Certainly with the wind we were able to do that a little bit more in the second half,” Keith said. “The goal came off of us getting the ball behind them.”

Petrucelli also said although the team left the stadium with a win, the work is not over.

“We are going to have to do a little bit better going forward,” said Petrucelli. “We are going to have to create a few more chances than we did tonight.”