Soccer's Payne ready for her homecoming weekend
Sept. 3, 2009
Andy Ortegon, Texas Media Relations
As the Texas Soccer team embarks on its first road trip of the season to California, sophomore defender Leah Payne is also looking forward to her return home.
"We are having a huge dinner at my house on Saturday night," she said. "My parents (Laurie and Harry) are hosting it, and a great deal of my family will be there, so I'm really excited."
Payne is a native of Danville, California, a city roughly 30 minutes from Berkeley, where the team will be playing this weekend. Thus, her home is the perfect retreat for the soccer team to rest up and grab a bite between matches on Friday and Sunday.
Along with her excitement to return home to see friends and family, Payne is also anxious for the food. She just won't be preparing any of it.
"I know it's weird, but I just love food. It really doesn't matter the type," she said. "I even have a bit of an obsession with reading cookbooks. I love to read them, but unfortunately, I have never been able to take any sort of culinary class yet."
But this weekend, Leah has a different focus. As a vital asset to the Longhorns' defense, Payne will have her work cut out for her against two tough opponents in Saint Mary's and No. 14 California.
"The defense is really growing stronger," Payne said. "Coach (Chris Petrucelli) has incorporated us in the team's new possessive style of play."
And that style of play has affected not only the team's productivity defensively, but offensively as well.
"There is a new focus, not only to defend, but to make smart passes and truly control the field, rather than simply prevent goals," Payne explained.
This season, Payne has also been looked upon as a leader on the field. Alongside teammate Erica Campanelli, she has been helped coordinate the team's defensive strategy.
"Both Erica and I have been told by coach specifically to look for the smart pass forwards, to restart our attack as quick as possible, even if we bypass the midfield," Payne said. "It's a greater responsibility, but it is effective."
Of course, Payne is also looking forward to her happy homecoming and a great night of friends, food and family.
"I really just want to spend time at home, hang with my siblings and see my dogs," Payne said. "Daisey is the bulldog and she is my favorite, and Bailey and Vinney are the two Beagles. But Daisey is my baby. All the girls know I am most excited about seeing my dogs."