Soccer's grand season ends three steps shy of NCAA title
"Now, I have to give them (the players) the freedom to prove they can play in a way to make us a success."
In this case, it was Mission Accomplished.
The 2007 Texas Soccer team won its second consecutive Big 12 Tournament Championship and advanced to the third round of the NCAA Championship for the second consecutive year and the third time in the last four years.
The Horns made their seventh consecutive NCAA tournament appearance (2001-07) and reached double-digit victories in a season (16-4-5) for the eighth straight year.
Texas' four losses this season equal the fewest ever for the program and its 16 victories were two shy of tying the most ever in a season. The 2006 Longhorns went 18-4-3.
Texas stands 60-24-11 in the last four years.
"We beat the No. 1 team in the country (UCLA) and the No. 2 team in the country (Texas A&M) twice. You can't get much better than that," Petrucelli said, reviewing Texas' 2007 campaign. His teams also have won four of the last five duels with A&M -- always a plus for any coach on the Forty Acres.
However, Florida State ended the Longhorns' dream season on Nov. 23 in Tallahassee's Seminole Soccer Complex, blanking UT 4-0.
FSU outshot the Longhorns 29-5, including an 11-to-2 margin in shots on goal.
"We're disappointed that we did not go on," said Petrucelli, whose tenure as head coach began Dec. 31, 1998. "But I told the players after the game, Florida State was good. There wasn't much we could do about that.
"We could only control how we played and maybe we didn't play our best, but I think it was a lot more about how Florida State played."
The Big 12 Conference Defender of the Year junior Kasey Moore, who paced the Longhorns in game-winning goals this season with five, echoed Petrucelli's comments on the strength of the Seminoles.
"I have to give them all of the credit in the world," she began. "I think that was the most dynamic front line we'd played against all season. They were amazing."
As were the Longhorns throughout the 2007 season.
Junior goalie Dianna Pfenninger tied a single-season school record of 16 goalkeeper wins and has the most career victories -- 41 -- ever at UT. She, likewise, equaled her school mark with seven shutouts in a season. She has 18 for her career.
"We wouldn't have been where we were if it wasn't for her," Petrucelli said.
Senior Kelsey Carpenter, a NSCAA All-America, also was honored by ESPN The Magazine by being selected as an Academic All-America with a 3.51 GPA. She ended her UT career by sharing the lead in points (25) and goals (10) this season. The Lowe's Senior CLASS nominee ranks third all-time in career points (98) and goals (39). She also finishes tied for first all-time in game-winning goals with 13.
"Kelsey developed into one of the premier forwards in the country," Petrucelli said.
And while Carpenter and four other seniors will not return in 2008, Petrucelli will have 13 juniors and sophomores on the roster next season.
"I don't think we're satisfied with getting to this level," Petrucelli said of reaching the third round of the NCAAs. "The goal of our program is to win the whole thing. It's what you do at Texas. You win."