Wilson's two second-half goals send Soccer past West Virginia
AUSTIN, Texas -- Fending off two last-second chances by the Mountaineers, the Longhorns made senior Kelly Wilson's (Odessa, Texas) second-half goal stand up to send No. 20 Texas (15-6-2) to a 2-1 victory over West Virginia (15-6-0) in front of 371 rain-soaked fans at Myers Stadium during second-round NCAA Tournament action on Sunday, Nov. 14. With the Horns' second-ever NCAA Tournament win, Texas not only ties the school season mark for wins (15), but also now advances to the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament and will face No. 5 seed and sixth-ranked Portland next weekend.
West Virginia grabbed the early lead as Ashley Weimer collected an attempted clearance at the top of the Longhorns' penalty area in the third minute of action and sent a shot toward goal that was deflected in front and found the foot of Cathy Abel, who deposited a shot into the back of the net for a 1-0 Mountaineers' lead. While UT responded by putting immediate pressure on the opposing net, West Virginia's defense and goalkeeper Lana Bannerman weathered the attack and maintained their one-goal lead through the first 34 minutes. Then, at 39:32, Longhorns freshman Kelsey Carpenter (Allen, Texas) recorded her eighth goal of the year to knot the match at 1-1 when she broke in behind the WVU defense and beat Bannerman to her right off a nice direct feed from both Ashley Foster (Athens, Ga.) and Nicole Breger (Sterling Heights, Mich.). The deadlock would persist through the remaining minutes of the period with both teams heading to the locker room tied at 1-1.
In the second half, both teams battled for the upper hand early before the match was halted with 36 minutes remaining due to lightning in the area. Following the 38-minute lightning delay, the WVU offense pressured Texas within the box for the first six minutes of action, but Alex Gagarin (Austin, Texas) and the UT defense were able to hold off the attacks and keep the game tied at 1-1. UT then capitalized on its first quality chance of the second period when back-to-back slide tackles from Carrie Schmit (La Mesa, Calif.) and Breger resulted in a slotted pass to Wilson behind the WVU defense. From there, the senior forward sprinted into the box, moved around Bannerman's dive and registered her team-leading 16th goal of the year to give Texas a 2-1 advantage. Now trailing for the first time in the game, West Virginia pressed its attack to find the equalizer, but could not dent the UT defense despite out shooting the Horns by a 12-5 margin. Down to their final possession, the Mountaineers received a free kick deep in their own end off a foul with less than 10 seconds play. The kick found the foot of Laura Kane in the center of the Texas midfield, who rocketed a last-chance shot at the UT goal which careened off the cross bar as time expired. While the rebound was sent into the back of the net by WVU, time had already run out as the Longhorns held on for the one-goal victory. Earning the win was Gagarin, who tied her career-high with eight saves on the afternoon, while Bannerman incurred the loss.
Headlining the Texas offense was Wilson, who fired a team-best four shots and recorded her sixth and 13th game-winning goal, respectively, to set a new UT season mark and tie the school career record in that category, and Breger, who equaled a career-best with two assists on the day. West Virginia's attack, meanwhile, was paced by Kane, who tallied five of her game-high six shots on goal. Of additional note for Texas, Carpenter increased her season point total to 22, which matches the freshman point mark of current senior Kelly McDonald, who is the Horns all-time leading goal scorer.
Up next, the Horns will head to Portland, Ore., next weekend to face No. 5 national seed and sixth-ranked Portland, who defeated Colorado to reach the Sweet 16. Date and times will be announced later this week.