Soccer finds its shape against Toledo
Aug. 27, 2012
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
AUSTIN, Texas - The college soccer season is one of the most baffling in all of sports, as teams generally begin their seasons with only a handful of preseason training sessions in the books.
As head coach Angela Kelly and the Longhorns now forge into the third week of their regular season, they can look to Sunday's 3-0 victory against Toledo as a triumph of both technique and time.
The Longhorns allowed North Carolina State just one shot in the first half on Friday - and six overall - but still fell 1-0 after Jessica Baity scored for the Wolfpack in the 84th minute.
UT's backline was again rock solid Sunday, holding Toledo without a shot until 10 minutes had already passed in the second half. The difference for Texas, however, was the consistent pressure and poise.
The Longhorns took 15 shots against Toledo, including six on goal, and converted three into points.
"We've been frustrated with ourselves, because we've been beating teams with our possession, but we haven't finished," said sophomore Allison Smith, who scored a goal and assisted on another against Toledo. "This gives us a lot of confidence, and we just have to keep going."
The Longhorns' midfield is holding its shape better, which is leading to more organization overall. And the team is growing from the time together on the training pitch and in competition.
UT's offensive movement without the ball is becoming quick and dynamic, as players understand more thoroughly where they need to be. That also creates trust, because teammates know they can make a pass.
"We have a substance to our attack. We have a foundation," Kelly said. "We created enough opportunities (against Arkansas and North Carolina State), and to finally reap the rewards of that gives them a sigh of relief."
Smith took six shots combined in the losses to Arkansas and North Carolina State, but she exemplified the Longhorns' concentrated persistence on Sunday. She set up freshman Lindsey Meyer's goal, with a well-placed corner kick tight in the box that the 6-foot Meyer was able to get a head on and knock into the net.
Then, almost three minutes later, Smith took a left-footed shot and slotted it perfectly in the net, just out of the goalkeeper's reach.
"You have to keep reminding yourself that you're good enough to finish these goals," Smith said. "You can get in front of the goal and get too excited to convert. You have to stay composed and get your job done."