With only three games left of Big 12 conference play, the Longhorns are showing positive signs after a rocky start to the season. Last Friday’s 2-1 road victory against Baylor improved the team’s conference record to 4–2, enough for second place in the Big 12 behind Oklahoma State.
On Thursday night, Texas will take on Iowa State to try to add another win to their total and better position themselves for the Big 12 tournament following the regular season.
At key moments this year, the Longhorns have had a supporting cast that has complemented the playmakers on the team. Whether it be sophomore Carlee Allen, redshirt junior Cydney Billups, freshman Sydney Nobles or other role-players, finding contributors outside of the expected players — sophomore Julia Grosso, junior Haley Berg and senior Cyera Hintzen — has been critical during Texas victories.
Last week against Baylor, the player to step up for Texas was sophomore Cameron Brooks. Despite being listed as an outside defender, Brooks was given her first start at left wing and ended up with a breakout performance. She contributed to both of the goals scored that night via an assist and her first career goal.
“Cameron has a savvy to her,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “She has a physical presence, and she is crafty. We’ve watched her train the last couple of weeks, and she’s been really prolific putting the ball in the back of the net. She was kind of an X factor for us. She just came up big.”
Texas is 7–0 this season when scoring first, a fact that could lead to early aggressiveness against Iowa State. As the aforementioned players continue to get more acclimated to the offensive system, the likelihood of a quick start increases, something the coaching staff appreciates.
“We’re playing the style that we always wanted to play,” Kelly said. “Now they’re just understanding exactly which passes to make and how to build. They’re playing more cohesive.”
When it comes to the actual game against Iowa State, the Longhorns match up well with the Cyclones. The Cyclones are coming into the game with zero Big 12 conference wins, with all three of their non-confernece wins coming against non-Power 5 opponents. They have been outscored 24-8 by opponents and have only crossed the multiple goal mark once
On paper, the game is an excellent opportunity for a Texas victory. However, the team should stay on their toes. There have been several close matches for the Longhorns this season, and many of the Cyclones’ losses have been in close games.
“They have been in every single match,” Kelly said. “Their results might not show that, but in watching film, they’ve been in every single match.”
One player to watch is Iowa’s freshman Mira Emma. Emma was selected as the Big 12 Freshman of the Week in September and has totaled five points this season in limited action.
The Cyclones should be expected to bring their A-game to Austin, so stopping Emma will be important in keeping Iowa State’s offense at bay. If the Longhorns can play with discipline, they have the chance to come away with the win.
The match will kick off at 7 p.m. at Mike A. Meyers Stadium and Soccer Field on Thursday night.