The No. 4 national seed Texas Longhorns will take on Virginia Tech at Mike A. Myers Stadium one last time this season to kick off the first round of the NCAA Tournament. With the win, Texas will complete a perfect home record on the season. Although Virginia Tech’s (9–7–3) record isn’t as stellar as that of Texas (13–4–3), the Longhorns are expecting a competitive match.
“I know that they are a well-coached team from one of the top conferences in the country,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “They’re going to be a tremendous opponent for an opening-round match.”
Virginia Tech is led by a pair of talented freshmen of their own: Karlie Johnson and Emily Gray. Gray, a Sewell, New Jersey, native, leads the team in goals and points, and was just named to the ACC All-Freshman Team. Gray also leads the team in assists.
In order for Texas to advance to the second round, the Longhorns will need to disrupt Virginia Tech’s offense and put the pressure on their defense early, which Texas has had very little problem doing this season. Of Texas’ 39 goals this season, 19 goals have come in the first period.
The Longhorns will look to Cyera Hintzen, Katie Glenn and Alexa Adams to lead their offensive attack. Although the trio has been highly effective for the majority of the regular season, it has failed to score in their last three games.
If the Longhorns are going to beat the Hokies, the difference may very well be decided by how effective these players are able to attack Virginia Tech’s defense. Virginia Tech’s defense is led by junior goalkeeper Mandy McGlynn, who was a First Team selection for the preseason All-ACC team. McGlynn boasted
a .792 percentage.
While the Longhorns aren’t looking past the Hokies, they definitely have high expectations for themselves. Last year, Texas went as far as the Sweet 16, something the Longhorns have only achieved four times in the program’s history. This year, Haley Berg is confident the team can repeat, if not advance further than it did last year.
“Our whole goal is to get as far as possible and go even farther than we did last year,” Berg said. “And I think this team can definitely do that. Our mindset is to play for each other, play with each other and see what we can do.”