The Texas forwards hoped to compensate for the lack of rain in Austin by watering the field at Mike A. Myers Stadium with sweat and tears. After a disappointing 1-0 loss at home to Baylor in their conference season opener, the Longhorn’s front three led an aggressive attack Sunday against the Iowa State Cyclones.
“Iowa State is definitely a physical team,” said junior forward Hannah Higgins. “We’ve known coming into the game and so was Baylor. We knew we had to come out and be more aggressive if we were going to keep up with them. We had to compete a little bit more ... I think we show[ed] what our offense is capable of.”
Knaack and Higgins, along with junior forward Vanessa Ibewuike, came out strong and combined for nine shots, four on goal, that contributed to a team total of 17 shots. The forwards outplayed their Cyclone counterparts who had six team shots total.
“After Friday’s loss, we knew we had to come out strong, and I think it showed in the first 10 minutes or so,” Higgins said. “We were just down there shooting, and we kept shooting. We knew we needed to get goals today to get the result.”
With the loss of senior center forward Kylie Doniak to an injury last week, Texas head coach Chris Petrucelli has had to reorganize his offense. Petrucelli centered his scheme around Doniak’s footwork, leadership and her ability to control the ball. With Doniak on the bench, Ibewuike has been thrust into a starting role and has had to step up, along with Knaack and Higgins,
“We just all have to take on extra responsibility and have had to work extra hard,” Knaack said. “All three of us forwards have had to take on the role in the middle, switch positions every 10-15 minutes with a new person. In the middle, your job is just to hold it and distribute. We are just trying to work together.”
Both Knaack and Higgins have started all season up front, but this weekend marked Ibewuike’s first two starts of the season. Her constant and unrelenting attack throughout the game paid off and helped to stabilize the front line.
“Vanessa has just stepped right in and work[ed] with the team and has just been great,” Knaack said.
Against the Cyclones, Ibewuike had one assist on the Longhorn’s second score of the game, a goal in the 79th minute by Knaack. Ibewuike took control of the ball and surged past several defenders before passing to Knaack who knocked it in.
“Vanessa worked really hard to get down to the in-line,” Knaack said. “She basically did all the work; I was just there to finish.”
Higgins, Knaack and Ibewuike proved today that they may have the aggression it takes to survive in Big 12 conference play, even without the performance of their star forward.
Printed on Monday September 26, 2011 as: Offense finds way to score