junior goalkeeper

Taylor Knaack dribbles the ball during the LonghornsÂ’ 5-1 win over Cal State Northridge on August 28. Texas beat Texas Tech on Wednesday to advance in the Big 12 Tournament in San Antonio. (Daily Texan file photo)

Photo Credit: Danielle Villasana | Daily Texan Staff

You can add another clean sheet to Alexa Gaul’s already impressive resume.

The junior goalkeeper had four saves as fifth-seeded Texas held off fourth-seeded Texas Tech, 1-0, in the first round of the Big 12 Tournament in San Antonio on Wednesday.

The shutout, which came days after Gaul was selected for the All-Big 12 second team, is the 19th of her career and seventh of the season.

“Gaul needs some credit for stonewalling us,” said Texas Tech head coach Tom Stone. “This game was really determined in the first 20 minutes. Texas pushed us around a little bit.”

On offense, the Longhorns only needed Kristin Cummins’ goal in the 11th minute to advance to the semifinals to take on Oklahoma State tomorrow. The No. 2 Cowgirls finished undefeated in the Big 12 this season and are defending Big 12 champions.

The goal, Cummins’ fifth of the season, was set up by a brilliant pass from senior forward Kylie Doniak. Cummins was able to head the ball into the right corner, just out of reach from Red Raider goalkeeper Victoria Esson. Doniak, who missed five games during the season because of a right knee injury, tallied her fifth assist of the season.

“[Doniak] clipped it in, and it was a perfect ball,” Cummins said. “It couldn’t have been any more on the money. I saw the keeper near post, so I knew my only chance was to redirect it to the far post. I think I got enough on it to just get it to the corner.”

The Longhorns go into Friday’s match being one of only two teams that did not lose to Oklahoma State this season, after playing to a 1-1 draw on Oct. 14. 

Texas goalkeeper Alexa Gaul has been a steady presence in the net, posting four shutouts on the year already in eight games.

Photo Credit: Fanny Trang | Daily Texan Staff

In just two years, junior goalkeeper Alexa Gaul has made a world of difference. Her confidence and skill in the net has contributed not only to the Longhorns’ success but to the success of the U.S. Under-20 and Under-23 Women’s National Teams.

During regular season play, Gaul has recorded four shutouts this year, in addition to the shutout against TCU during preseason action. Those shutouts bring her career total to 16, which places her at second in career shutouts in the Texas all-time record books.

Two of those shutouts came during the first weekend of September in consecutive games at home against UTSA and Dartmouth College. Her performance earned her the honor of Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week for that week.

Gaul was awarded various conference honors last season, including three Big 12 Conference Defensive Player of the Week awards. She became the first Longhorn to win three ‘player of the week’ honors in the same season.

Another notable statistic connected with Gaul’s shutouts is that it is the second time in history that a Texas goal keeper has produced four shutouts in the first six games of the season.

“I’ve just been working on staying focused and doing the little things,” Gaul said.

The Longhorns are 6-2-0 on the season, with 19 total goals and four shutouts.

Gaul’s contribution to the team stretches even further. During the 2-0 win against UTSA on Sept. 2, Gaul was credited with an assist. Most defensive players, especially goalkeepers, never have the opportunity to make an assist.

After saving a shot, Gaul threw the ball to junior teammate Hannah Higgins, who connected with junior Vanessa Ibewuike for a 20-yard goal.

“It really goes to show you that we have great players,” Ibewuike said. “Most people try to kick it out, but Alexa tried to find a pass that got to Hannah ... I hope they both get credited the assist on that one. It was a great job.”

Texas head coach Chris Petrucelli is equally impressed by the commitment and skill shown by his goalkeeper.

“[The] goal was really athletic movement. You know, fast, powerful. Alexa went at the ball in the air, which was great coming off the line,” Petrucelli said. “And then Hannah and Vanessa ran 120 yards at full speed ... that [goal] was pretty impressive.”

As a Longhorn, Gaul has started in all eight games so far this season for a total of 711:29 minutes of play. She is credited with 18 saves, which yields a 0.720 save percentage.

As a member of the United States Under-23 Women’s National Team, Gaul earned the starting job in the Four Nations Tournament hosted in England in the summer of 2010. As keeper, Gaul registered two shutouts to help the National Team win the tournament.

Her participation on many different teams provides Gaul the experience necessary to exceed at the college level.

“One of our mottoes for this year is to play fast and get the ball,” Gaul said. “Just looking quick and being ready, that’s what I’m trying to do.”

The Longhorns will host the Baylor Bears on Sept. 23 in the 2011 conference season opener.

Printed on Wednesday, September 14, 2011 as: Gaul keeps posting shutouts on pitch.