Nina Frausing Pedersen

Nina Frausing Pedersen’s road to Texas was a long one.

As in 7,230 miles-long, the approximate distance between Auckland, New Zealand and Austin.

While the sophomore defender is a native of Silkeborg, Denmark, the prospect of playing for the Longhorns came about during the 2008 FIFA Women’s U-17 World Cup in New Zealand.

The Danish international dreamed of coming to America to continue her soccer career and she turned to Facebook, of all places, to make that dream a reality.

After the tournament, Frausing Pedersen sent a friend request to U-17 U.S. World Cup goalkeeper, Alexa Gaul, whom she had never met and who just happened to be the goalie for the Longhorns.

“We had no idea who each of us was,” Gaul said. “I remember we were in the same hotel at one point, but I had no idea who she was.”

At that point, Frausing Pedersen was simply looking for more information on how to contact coaches and the possibility of playing collegiately.

“I was just like, ‘you can talk to my coach, here’s his email,’” Gaul said. “And it all worked out. We just built a friendship over Facebook and just communicated through that and she just ended up coming here, which was awesome.”

The friendship grew so strong that the two have since become roommates.

“We talk about everything on the field and leave everything on the field,” Frausing Pedersen said. “But we can be straight up with each other if we need anything. She’ll tell me what to do and I’ll do it, and afterwards we can go talk about it if we want something done differently. But we have a really good relationship.”

After Texas head coach Chris Petrucelli made the trek to Denmark to see Frausing Pedersen play, he knew she had to come to Texas. Ultimately, in a choice between Stanford and Texas, she chose the Longhorns and Petrucelli credits Texas’ persistent recruiting in convincing her.

“I was excited when I watched her play,” Petrucelli said. “I saw someone who was really good athletically, solid technically and a hard worker.”

But Petrucelli acknowledges that there are some difficulties in recruiting international players, such as not being able to see them play often or differences in academic standards.

“There are culture issues and whether or not they want to go that far from home,” Petrucelli said. “I will say that Nina, early in her freshman year, struggled with some homesickness.”

But her team was always there for her.

“Our team took to Nina right away and they were certainly looking out for her and protecting her early on, but I’ll tell you what — right now, it’s almost like she’s a Texan with a Danish accent,”
Petrucelli said.

Now in her second year, things have become easier for Frausing Pedersen. She knows her teammates better and she’s more comfortable with the language and with Austin. She‘s more confident in her ability and has earned the trust of Petrucelli, who has put her in his starting 11 every match this season.

The Dane, who began playing soccer at age 4 because of her father, even scored her first goal as a Longhorn in a 2-1 victory over Iowa State. That, according to her, was her greatest accomplishment during her time in Austin.

Along with providing stability to the backline, Frausing Pedersen showed her versatility last Sunday against Seattle University when Petrucelli asked the central defender to start at forward, something she had never done before.

“We’re making it a little hard on her by moving her all around, but I thought she did well up front,” Petrucelli said. “But she has the ability to play at a number of different spots and she’s good at all of them.”

Despite the accolades, Frausing Pedersen remains grounded. She understands that the expectations for this team, and for her personally, are high. She also feels that there is more to accomplish this season.

“This year we have such a good team, so I think we can win the Big 12,” Frausing Pedersen said. “And hopefully we can go further than last year in the NCAA. But [the goal] is to win the Big 12.”

For Frausing Pedersen, who admits that she still misses her friends and family back in Denmark, life has become a little easier. And in only her second year, her future as a Longhorn looks bright.

“She’s certainly going to be one of our better players and a leader here over the next couple of years,” Petrucelli said. “I think we’re just starting to see the beginning of a really talented player.” 

Sophomore defender Nina Frausing-Pedersen (3) fights for the ball. She and the defense allowed only four shots on goal.

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

After an up-and-down weekend last week tying top-ranked Oklahoma State and losing to Texas Tech, the Longhorns soccer team rallied on Sunday with a win. Texas (10-6-1) scored the game’s only goal off of a Kylie Doniak corner kick to beat Seattle University (10-5). A big part of the success for the Longhorns was the versatility of Nina Frausing Pedersen. She played every position except goalie for Texas at Mike A. Myers Stadium on Sunday.

“That’s just the type of player she is, so strong and smart,” Doniak said. “To be able to use her in every position is an advantage for us. That’s hard for other teams to mark and scout on her.”

To start the game, Frausing Pedersen played up top trying to use her height and strength to her advantage. If properly used as a target forward, the Danish-born player can make it easy for smaller forwards such as Vanessa Ibewuike and Hannah Higgins to run in behind the defense. This should open up the defense and allow the Longhorns to be more offensive.

“Well, this week we were practicing me as a target forward. Just because the forwards we have are best out wide,” Frausing Pedersen said. “They can lay it off to me, and I can keep the ball and play it to them.”

The change from centerback to striker will take time for Frausing Pedersen to adjust to, but she has the skill set to excel up top. Frausing Pedersen’s excellent touch and vision should help make the switch go by smoothly. However, at the end of the game, Coach Chris Petrucelli moved the Dane back to defense to make sure Texas was able to hold onto its one-goal lead.

“I thought she did well up front certainly,” Petrucelli said. “When we got ahead, we moved her back there as well, so she has the ability to play a number of different spots, and she is good at all of them.”

Frausing Pedersen said after the game that she still prefers to play as a centerback, but maybe after some time as a striker, she might enjoy her new position. Which is understandable since Frausing Pedersen has never played as a lone forward, and she still needs to learn how to make the proper runs as a striker. The good news for Texas is having a player that is this skilled and can play numerous positions is not a bad problem for a team that is struggling.