Higgins, Smith lead Texas Soccer to three-goal victory over Fresno State
Sept. 15, 2012
Dalton Pool, Texas Media Relations
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas came out firing against Fresno State Friday night. Within the first ten minutes of the match UT had racked up three corner kicks, five shots, and four shots on goal including senior Hannah Higgins’ left-footed strike from outside the box that gave the Longhorns’ the early lead at 2:55.
The goal started with sophomore Allison Smith, whose work rate and movement off the ball would set the tone for the Longhorns all night. Smith received the ball on the left wing in the attacking third, took on two defenders and slotted a perfect ball into Higgins’ run, which started at the top of the penalty box. Higgins controlled the ball beautifully, took one touch to the left of the defender, and then sent a left-footed shot curling over the goalkeeper’s head and into the far right upper 90.
“I actually wasn’t expecting the pass from Allison, but I just happened to be in the right spot at the right time, got my hips around the ball, and found the far post,” Higgins said of her first goal of the season. “You always want that first goal because you think maybe it’ll be the one to open the flood gates, and I am hoping that’s what it is for me. To get that first one in the back of the net is just a relief and gives you confidence going forward.”
Higgins was far from done on the night. Just 23 minutes after giving Texas the lead, she served up a perfect corner kick to the six-foot freshman Lindsey Meyer, who buried the header to give UT the two-goal lead. The assist was the 12th of Higgins’ career.
“We have targets with Brooke (Gilbert), Sharis (Lachappelle), and Lindsey (Meyer). Obviously they are all very tall, but are also great headers of the ball,” Higgins explained. “Set plays are something we focus on, and we want to do our best to capitalize on them as much as we can.”
Texas would later add a third goal just minutes into the second half as freshman Kelsey Shimmick struck for her first career goal. However, the stars of the night throughout would be Higgins and Smith. The pressure they provided on Fresno State’s backline, combined with their work ethic and ability to take on defenders set the pace from the opening whistle.
“We really focused on containing and pressuring the back line, and not letting the defenders have time to serve balls,” Smith said. “On the offensive side, I’ve been working on taking on defenders, which is something I didn’t used to do very often. In the past I was just the playmaker in the middle, but lately I’ve tried to go at defenders more a create more for my teammates.”
Smith and Higgins elevating their offensive games is just what the Longhorns have been looking for. Going forward, Texas hopes to build on its recent offensive success and follow the leadership of Higgins and Smith as the team gears up for conference play.
Texas is back in action Sunday, Sept. 16, at 7 p.m. against the University of Denver at Mike A. Myers Stadium and Soccer Field. The match will be televised live by Longhorn Network.