Even though goals have been a precious and all-too-rare commodity for the Texas women’s soccer team of late, they’re in the Big XII Tournament, that starts Wednesday in north San Antonio, against their arch-rival Oklahoma Sooners.
The Longhorns (7-10-1 overall, and 4-4 in conference play) — who earned the No. 4 seed in the eight-team tournament, play No. 5 Oklahoma at Blossom Soccer Stadium, in the first of four quarterfinal games during the day.
They’ve already beaten the Sooners in Norman this year, in a 1-0 match on Sept. 23, on the strength of a Sharis Lachappelle goal. Beating the Sooners would set up a likely match with the No. 1-seeded West Virginia in Friday’s semifinal match. Texas played the Mountaineers in an unusually frigid Austin this past Friday, losing 1-0 in overtime after looking dominant throughout the game.
West Virginia is one of two Big 12 teams ranked in the nation’s Top 25. Getting past the No. 19 Mountaineers would set up a possible Sunday tourney finals against No. 15 Baylor, who has the 2nd seed. Texas and Baylor played a dramatic game in Waco on Oct. 19; Lachappelle scored to tie the game with under a minute to go in regulation, but Baylor prevailed by scoring in the second overtime period.
The loss to Baylor was part of a rough end of the season for the Horns. In its last five games, Texas went 1-4, was held scoreless in three of those games, and eeked out a 1-0 win against Kansas to stay in the league's top four.
Still, though, it’s been a decent inaugural season for new coach Angela Kelly, who came over to the 40 Acres late last year from Tennessee, to a soccer-friendly town that counts the Longhorn women among its best live soccer options.
Kristin Cummins — one of three seniors of the team — was named to the All-Big 12 first-team as voted on by the league’s coaches. Freshman goalie Abby Smith and Lachappelle made both the All-Big 12 second team and its Newcomers Team. Smith was one of three unanimous choices for the Newcomers Team, and missed the first part of the season to play for the U.S. in the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup. The U.S. team won gold; Smith played in the game against Cuba, earning a shutout for her efforts.
Freshmen Ali Schmalz and Lindsey Meyer also made the Newcomers Team.
Highlights of the season included a five-game unbeaten streak in September and October (which included a 4-0 win at Iowa State and a 3-0 win against Fresno State), games against two national top 10 teams (losses to No. 10 Virginia as part of an invitational event in Austin, and No. 5 BYU on the road), and August wins against Dayton and Toledo.
Can’t make it to San Antonio to watch the team in action? You can follow the action from your laptop for this and all other Big 12 tourney games, including Sunday's 1 p.m. finals, with the winner getting an automatic berth to the upcoming national championship tourney, starting the weekend of Nov. 15 and culminating with a Dec. 2 title game in San Diego.