Freshmen forge Soccer's future
Oct. 14, 2011
Natalie England, TexasSports.com
Even though the Texas Soccer team is dependent upon its veteran will, namely in the form of captain and defender Lucy Keith, the Longhorns are also full tilt into Big 12 Conference play thanks to the efforts of four freshmen.
“I don’t consider too much the fact that they’re freshmen -- they’re good players. And what we try to do is put good players on the field,” head coach Chris Petrucelli said.
Accountability, Petrucelli said, has been allowed these four freshmen to earn their roles within the team. An in the case of Arnold, she had a little bit of a head start.
Arnold graduated high school a semester early and joined the Longhorns in Austin last spring. She had that entire semester, plus a summer’s worth of involuntary workouts, to get fitter and stronger, as well as adapt to college classes and time management stresses. The speed of college play and the demands of playing two matches in a weekend can often prove to be difficult physical transitions for freshmen.
“I knew what my role was coming in -- I wanted to earn trust and more importantly just play consistent,” Arnold said. “I wanted to be consistently good.”
So far, only goalkeeper Alexa Gaul has logged more on-field minutes than Arnold this season.
“We want to win this season, and I want to be part of that and make a difference,” Arnold said.
For Smith, this is literally a dream come true. She grew up in Austin going to Texas Soccer matches and waiting for autographs on the field afterwards. She said scoring her first career goal against Missouri “surreal.”
“It’s really a day-by-day thing,” Smith said. “There’s a ton of stuff to understand, so you just have to keep focusing each day. I want to do my best in practice and show that I can be a consistent option for the team.”
Gilbert said dealing with the pressure and expectations has proven to be the biggest challenge so far.
I’ve really had to become mentally stronger. Since I’ve been starting, there’s just pressure that comes with that,” Gilbert said. “I continue to try to prove myself in every game, and I want to be that player the team can rely on.”
Jaynes should now be a regular starter in the back line, replacing injured senior Amanda Lisberger.
“The thing that I like about that group though is that they really do all the little things right -- they’re disciplined and they take care of their business. And it shows on the field,” Petrucelli said.