Press box perspectives with Jessica Stamp: Oct. 2
Every week throughout the season, former UCLA and U.S. Under-16 National Team midfielder Jessica Stamp provides color analysis for the Texas Soccer Web Broadcasts and her perspective on the team's performance over the last week. A Houston, Texas, native, Stamp played for the Challenge Soccer Club before winning a Pac-10 Championship and reaching the College Cup Finals as a UCLA Bruin.
Once the Longhorns can consistently build and develop these opportunities, they then must work to make these chances more dangerous. Less than a third of these overall shots were on frame. Texas can improve its look on goal by playing the ball forward faster and looking to take the shot earlier. This gives the opposition little time to get in behind the ball. Many teams already start in this defensive position, when facing quick and technical teams like Texas, to disrupt this style of play. Texas usually avoids the urge to simply play direct in these situations and instead increases the pace of their possession in order to combine to get behind the opposing defensive line early. This patience coupled with a sense of urgency on each attack will give Texas the most success.
She of course scored the game-winner against Texas Tech, but perhaps more importantly provides increased speed, quickness, and offensive presence in the middle. The Texas midfield has typically been the bastion in front of the UT defensive line, winning battles and regaining possession. However, penetration on the dribble usually comes out of the backfield from the outside backs or even junior defender Kasey Moore centrally. Kennedy adds this ability to the midfield in addition to her scoring prowess.
Collegiate teams quickly learn that the ability to win on the road becomes essential for success at this level, especially in preparing for postseason play. Not only do elements such as field condition and weather change, but also the presence of a variety of distractions. This may involve the behavior of fans in the stands, the presence of family members, or even examining which players traveled with the team. Throughout the NCAA tournament and specifically during the Final Four, the media's presence becomes an enormous disturbance to teams' ability to focus on playing soccer. Fortunately, the Longhorns encounter these peripheral aspects on a regular basis in playing within the Big 12 and for the University of Texas.
Texas performs in front of a large number of fans and face interviews before and after each game. Smaller schools and even most of the larger programs lack the resources or surrounding interest that can assist in preparing for the nuances of bigger games and post-season play. UT has the opportunity to train in terms of its response to these distractions, and must use the Big 12 games to hone their ability to focus and play a high level of soccer from venue to venue.