Soccer wins NCAA Tournament opener against North Texas
AUSTIN, Texas -- Using a 31-shot attack that saw three different players score and limiting the opposition to only two shots on goal, No. 20 Texas (14-6-2) earned the program's first-ever NCAA Tournament victory with a 3-0 win over North Texas (16-6-1) in front of 1,016 fans during first-round tournament action at Myers Stadium on Friday, Nov. 12. With the win, which was UT's 11th consecutive triumph at home this season, the Longhorns now advance to play West Virginia (15-5-0) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Myers Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 14 at 12 p.m. Central.
North Texas produced a couple of quality chances within the opening five minutes, but Texas' defense held strong to keep the game scoreless early. The UT offense then began to pressure the Mean Green net with a couple of quality opportunities before senior Kelly McDonald (Littleton, Colo.) settled consecutive passes from Kelly Wilson (Odessa, Texas) and Nicole Breger (Sterling Heights, Mich.) inside the UNT penalty area in the 26th minute and deposited a shot into the back of the net to produce a 1-0 Horns' lead. Continuing to attack in front, Texas made it a 2-0 game at 41:33 when Wilson took a feed from Nikki Thaden (Clive, Iowa), broke in on the right side and then beat UNT goalkeeper Briana Buchanan inside the far post for her team-leading 15th goal of the year. The Longhorns' defense then held the Mean Green in check over the final three minutes of the first period to head into the locker room on top by two.
In the second half, North Texas attempted to cut their deficit in half when Heather Hutyra lofted a shot off the Texas crossbar, but the UT defense held and kept their lead in tact. At that point, the Horns turned up their offensive push and attempted to increase their lead, but Buchanan and the North Texas defense turned aside numerous chances to keep it a two-goal game through 79 minutes. Then, at 79:37, Karen Haight (Beaverton, Ore.) intercepted a clear off a Texas corner kick and weaved a shot through traffic inside the far post for her second career score to push the Longhorns in front 3-0. From there, UT goalkeeper Alex Gagarin (Austin, Texas) and the Texas defense closed out the 3-0 win to earn their eighth shutout of the season, which tied the school single-season team mark set in both 2001 and 2002. While Gagarin earned her seventh win of the year while turning aside two shots, Buchanan incurred the loss despite making a season-high nine saves.
Paving the way offensively for Texas was the tandem of Wilson and McDonald, who combined for 10 shots and accounted for three and two points, respectively, on the evening. Meanwhile, UNT's attack was led by Melinda Pina, who fired two of the Mean Green's nine shots. Notably for Texas, while McDonald's game-winner marked the 13th of her career to give her the school career lead in that category, Wilson set the UT single-season marks for both goals (15) and assists (14) with her effort on the night.
Up next, the Longhorns square off with the Mountaineers of West Virginia in the second round of the NCAA Tournament at Myers Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 14 at 12 p.m. Central. Tickets are available at the gate on Sunday beginning at 10:30 a.m.