midfielder

Goals came aplenty Friday night as Austin got its first taste of Major League Soccer action.

FC Dallas and D.C. United combined for six goals as both teams won their respective matches to advance to the final of the inaugural ATX Pro Challenge Sunday afternoon.

The first match between FC Dallas and the Columbus Crew featured the theme of many missed chances. The Crew created the match’s first real big chance as forward Kei Kamara managed to get the ball past FC Dallas keeper Chris Seitz, but the ball ricocheted off the post. On the other end, Dallas found itself with the ball in the box on multiple occasions, but failed to pull the trigger.

Finally, in the 29th minute, FC Dallas forward Blas Perez ripped a shot from just outside the box past Crew keeper Steve Clark to put the Texas side up 1-0.

Then the match became the Fabian Castillo show.

Just minutes after the Perez goal, Castillo got the ball in space on the left side of the pitch and beat his defender. The subsequent shot was blocked by Clark, but midfielder Ryan Hollingstead was there to get the rebound and double the FC Dallas lead.

Six minutes later, the Columbian forward repeated the same play, getting a shot on goal only for Hollingstead to put the ensuing rebound into the back of the net to give FC Dallas a 3-0 lead into halftime.

Columbus would score 20 minutes into the second half as midfielder Kristinn Steindorsson finally managed to get a shot past Seitz; however, FC Dallas managed to hang on in the end for a 3-1 win.

D.C. United’s match against tournament host, the Austin Aztex, proved to be much easier.

Fielding a starting lineup of primarily second and third teamers as well as one trialist, United opened the scoring nine minutes into the match as midfielder Miguel Aguilar drilled one past Aztex keeper Devin Perales.

Less than 10 minutes later, United forward Connor Doyle capitalized off of an Aztex turnover to double the lead.

Austin had its fair share of chances, however, it was thwarted primarily by the offsides flag. The Aztex were called offsides four times in the first half, including once where the ball ended up in the back of the net.

FC Dallas and D.C. United will square off for the tournament title at 3:15 p.m. Sunday with Columbus and Austin preceding that at 1 p.m.

Volunteer soccer coach Kristine Lilly notched 352 caps for the US Women’s Nation- al Team, scoring 130 international goals in route to two World Cup Championships and two Olympic Gold Medals.

Photo Credit: Texas Sports

The Texas athletic program has seen some great athletes switch to coaching after calling it quits on their playing careers. Football defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, track and field head coach Mario Sategna and assistant baseball coach Tommy Nicholson had solid collegiate careers, but none of them were considered the best in the history of their sport.

Volunteer soccer coach Kristine Lilly, though, has a legitimate claim to that title. The former stalwart midfielder notched 352 caps for the US Women’s National Team — the most in the history of the sport for men or women — scored 130 international goals and won two World Cups to match her two Olympic Gold Medals.

“That’s the best player in the world,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “From [FC Barcelona forward] Messi on down to [Brazilian women’s national team star] Marta, there isn’t a player on the men’s or women’s side that wouldn’t have the utmost respect for Kristine Lilly, and that’s awesome.”

Lilly’s addition to the coaching staff is especially significant for the players who grew up seeing her on television.

“I feel like everybody watched her,” junior goalkeeper Abby Smith said. “Its just a great opportunity to have one of the best players to come coach.”

In 2010, Lilly played her 23rd and final season for the national team and began to think about coaching soon after her retirement. She interviewed for a spot on the Longhorn staff in 2012 but was hesitant to commit to the job so soon after the birth of her second daughter. By August of 2014, though, Lilly and her family were ready to move to Austin so that she could begin her coaching with Kelly, Lilly’s collegiate teammate at North Carolina and the godmother of her youngest child. 

The transition from pitch to sidelines for the first-year coach has already changed her perspective on the game.

“It’s a lot easier to be a critic when you’re watching,” Lilly said. “When you’re in the game, it’s not as easy because its moving so quickly. You have to have the patience and realization to share that with them.”

She will continue that progression Friday at 7 p.m. when the Longhorns (7-5-2, 2-2-0 Big 12) travel to TCU (7-5-3, 0-2-3 Big 12).

But there’s also a balance Lilly has to see. Paid professional athletes can focus all of their attention on getting better, but most collegiate athletes will never make it to the pros and have to balance their academic pursuits with staying fit for elite competition. The dual commitment required to be a student-athlete is not lost on Lilly.

Lilly gave birth to her first daughter during her career, then returned to playing and had the monumental task of balancing motherhood with World Cup aspirations.

“If you want to play soccer, you’ve gotta do the other stuff,” said Lilly while glancing over her shoulder to watch her two toddlers kick a soccer ball back and forth with Kelly. “On the national team now, I think there’s two moms. You can do it.”

The new coach is most concerned with making sure her players enjoy the game that has given her so much.

“I like to see the response of the players. I like to see them get it,” Lilly said. “It’s been fun for me, and that’s what I want them to realize. It can be fun. You can work hard, but it can be fun.”

As a transfer from the University of Houston, then sophomore midfielder Sharis Lachappelle earned Big 12 conference honors in her first game as a Longhorn and lead the team with five goals. This year, she’s tied as the team’s leading scorer again, but that’s not what matters most.  

“The all-conference and newcomer thing: It’s nice to receive, but at the end of the season those are just extra things,” Lachappelle said. “It’s not my goal.”

For Lachappelle, now a junior studying mathematics, her ultimate goal is to be as productive as possible to help bring her team success.

“It’s not my goal to get individual awards; I would much rather have a Big 12 ring or a national championship ring,” she said. “I don’t really care about my name in the paper more so than I like to see our team’s name in the paper.”

Lachappelle has notched four goals on 20 shots on goal and three assists so far in 2013. Head coach Angela Kelly said her left-footed shot makes her a threat when it comes to scoring.

“She’s a naturally left-footed player and they’re worth their weight in gold in the game of soccer,” Kelly said. “She’s just got a ton of creativity and willingness to put the ball in the back of the net and take responsibility for a team.”

To Lachappelle, scoring is an experience that brings the team together, a fulfilling moment for her after all her hard work. 

“When your teammates are hugging you, there really isn’t any really greater feeling,” Lachappelle said. “It’s just a really rewarding feeling knowing that all your practice and preseason and everything that you work for is really paying off.”

Math is an offbeat major for an athlete, but she enjoys problem solving on and off the field.

“As a kid, I just always loved math problems, so it just made sense to major in math, and calculus is definitely my favorite math,” she said. “I like taking derivatives and integrals, I don’t know, that stuff is fun.”

As a member of UTeach, a program in which she will graduate with a teaching degree, Lachappelle said she’s considered teaching math at any level but ultimately sees herself back on a college campus as a professor but at a smaller university than Texas.

Kelly said she’s not surprised by Lachappelle’s goal of teaching and thinks her personality lends to a career like that.

“Honestly, I think that Sharis has been given qualities that are trending much more toward people,” Kelly said. “She needs to be giving back to the community, and I think if she was to become a professor, I think that would be wonderfully suited for her.”

Texas has only one game remaining in regular season play, and as the Longhorns move toward tournament play, Lachappelle’s personality and leadership ability will be key for the Longhorns to make a deep run. For Lachappelle, each day is a teaching moment, and the team still remembers the hard lesson of missing the NCAA tournament last season. 

De Rossi signs extension with AS Roma

Daniele De Rossi signed a new five-year contract extension yesterday with AS Roma.

The midfielder is now set to stay in the Italian capital until 2017 and will make €10 million a year. De Rossi has been with the Giallorossi his entire professional career, and the 28-year-old is nicknamed Capitan Futuro (future captain) and is expected to lead Roma once the legendary Francesco Totti retires. The biggest reason De Rossi is staying with Roma is because of new coach Luis Enrique.

“L. Enrique was fundamental in helping me to make this choice. I can already say that he's one of the best coaches I've ever had," De Rossi said in a press conference after signing with Roma.

The Spanish born coach has implemented a new style for Roma this season that suits De Rossi’s play. The midfielder is allowed to possess the ball deep in his own half and start up the Giallorossi attack; the same way Sergio Busquets sets up the Barcelona offense.

Teams like Manchester United, Manchester City, and Real Madrid have been interested in De Rossi in the past.

Roma are trying to rebuild under Enrique’s attack minded system, and De Rossi is an integral part of the team. The midfielder had to be signed if Roma is going to compete for Scudetto(s) (Italian Trophy) in the future. He sets up everything for Roma, and his ability to help defend as a midfielder allows the Roma fullbacks to help join the attack, which is something Enrique wants his team to be able to due. Also, his experience of playing in Serie A for 10 years will help bring together a very young Roma squad.

Soccer

Freshman Brooke Gilbert slides for the ball against Texas Tech. Gilbert scored her first goal as a Longhorn on Sunday off of an assist from Kylie Doniak.

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

Texas wasted no time putting the ball in the back of the net Sunday against Seattle University. The only problem was that the first time didn’t count.

But the Longhorns, now 10-6-1, wouldn’t be denied as they used a second-half goal from freshman midfielder Brooke Gilbert to beat the Redhawks, 1-0, at Mike A. Myers Stadium.

Just four minutes into the match, Longhorns forward Kristin Cummins blasted a shot from outside the penalty box that Redhawks goalkeeper Madison Goverde kept out, but the save fell right at the feet of junior Vanessa Ibewuike who calmly put it in the back of the net. Problem was, Ibewuike was called offside.

After that, Texas struggled to build up any momentum on offense during the first half and went into the locker room tied 0-0.

“I think in the first half, we did a good job of keeping the ball,” said senior forward Kylie Doniak. “We were a little bit afraid to move forward and kind of put our attack on them. So once we started getting in the mindset of going to get a goal, it changed the attack a little bit, and then we were keeping possession to get to goal.”

Doniak, who had a header hit the crossbar in the 67th minute, has been limited by a knee injury but played her most minutes on Sunday since Sept. 11, when she played 82 minutes against Southern California.

It was also Doniak’s corner kick in the 73rd minute that landed at the feet of Gilbert, who in traffic was able to kick the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal before Seattle’s Goverde could recover it.

“The play right before, I almost got one so I was just really eager to get the next one,” said Gilbert, a Snohomish, Wash., native. “It was really exciting. My first goal against my hometown and a few of my friends, so that’s always nice.”

The game proved to one of firsts for Gilbert as she started on defense for the first time this season after starting all 16 games at midfielder. Despite being nervous, the rookie was up to the challenge.

“I’ve played in the back before with the national team a few times, so it wasn’t too bad,” Gilbert said. “I just knew that I needed to stay focused and just play safe and get the job done.”

Gilbert became the Longhorns’ third freshman starter on the back line, after usual starting central defender Nina Frausing Pedersen was asked to play forward for the first time because of injuries to other strikers.

Sunday’s match showcased again just how much young talent Texas has, as five rookies started for Texas head coach Chris Petrucelli, and a total of seven freshmen saw the field.

“I don’t know if they could have done any better,” Petrucelli said of his freshmen defensive starters. “[Seattle] didn’t get a goal, so I was happy and confident in the way that they played. I felt like Brooke did quite well for us dropping into the center back, and I’m proud of them.”

Up next for the Longhorns is their regular season against rival Texas A&M on Sunday in Austin before traveling to San Antonio to kick off the Big 12 tournament on Wednesday.

“It’s really good to have a good win and have that going into Texas A&M because that’s a big game that we need to win,” Gilbert said.

Sophmore Lexi Harris has had a huge impact on the Longhorns this season, starting in every game thus far, whie contributing to two goals this year.

Photo Credit: Danielle Villasana | Daily Texan Staff

From the stands, Lexi Harris looks just like every other player on the Longhorn’s bench. She’s quick, makes good decisions on the field and loves to win. But this sophomore midfielder from Plano will surprise you.

Up close and personal, Harris likes a challenge and lives for the physical and mental toughness that soccer brings to the table.

“The sport requires so much from you physically and mentally,” Harris said. “No matter how good you become, the sport never ceases to push you to your limits.”

In high school, Harris racked up a long list of accolades. From the Texas stage, Harris helped to lead Plano West High School to a 5A State Championship in 2007.

In 2008, she was an Under-17 Women’s World Cup Finalist before going on to become a member of the United States Under-20 Women’s National Team. 

Texas head coach Chris Petrucelli recruited Harris heavily in high school. Top Drawer Soccer labeled her as the No. 1 recruit in Texas and No. 2 recruit nationally in 2010.

She didn’t stop once she got to college. As a freshman, Harris started in 18 of 21 games for the Longhorns and was named to the Big 12 All-Newcomer Team. So far this season, Harris has started all four games at midfielder and has accounted for two Texas scores.

Her motivation to work hard and to win is what sets her apart. Harris is the first of her family to go to college and credits soccer with providing her the opportunities she has at Texas.

“It just opens up everything for me,” Harris said. “I never had goals or anything like that. I am able to dream now. Soccer is my gateway to going where I want to go.”

Harris wants to finish college as an exercise science major before going to grad school to become a physical therapist. After that? Not even she knows.