Soccer seniors look to go out on a high note against No. 19 West Virginia
Oct. 24, 2012
Dalton Pool, Texas Media Relations
AUSTIN, Texas — Texas Soccer is set to take on No. 19 West Virginia this Friday at 7:30 p.m. The game is important for many reasons. It will be the last regular season conference match before the Big 12 Championship next week in San Antonio. It is against the league's top team, West Virginia. And if the Longhorns win, they could finish as high as third in standings after being picked to place sixth in the preseason polls.
However, for the three seniors on this year’s squad, the game is special for an even more meaningful reason. Friday will be the last match they play for The University of Texas on the Forty Acres at Mike A. Myers Stadium and Soccer Field.
With the hiring of head coach Angela Kelly this past winter and the addition of 11 newcomers, nine of which are freshmen, much of the focus this year has been on the future and potential of Texas Soccer. While the future is indeed promising and exciting, sometimes forgotten is how essential the veterans have been throughout this whole transition.
This Friday, as Kara Hoffman, Kristin Cummins and Hannah Higgins play their last game in Austin, it’s an opportunity to properly recognize and appreciate the sacrifices these three young ladies have made for Texas and its soccer program, as well as the lasting impact they will leave on the underclassmen who are about to be handed the reins and expected to lead in seasons to come.
All three seniors have had great final campaigns. Hoffman, who transferred to Texas from UTSA after her freshman year, has seen drastically more playing time as a senior. She has started nine of the 16 contests she has appeared in and played vital minutes at multiple positions throughout the season. This past weekend, she came in to play 83 minutes at right back against Baylor in a double-overtime thriller and then started the Sunday match at TCU.
“The best attribute of Kara Hoffman is she wants to contribute and win for Texas,” Kelly said. “She’s very versatile. She can play in the back for us, she is dynamic in the midfield as a playmaker and she has also played up top in her career.”
Said Hoffman: “Playing at Texas has been one of the best experiences ever. I’ve never had friends this close before or been this connected with people, and I feel like my teammates will be a part of my life forever.”
Higgins and Cummins have started every single game this season. Cummins leads the team in points with four goals and four assists. Higgins is close behind with three goals and four assists. Their success, however, hasn’t been limited to just this season. Throughout their careers, they have contributed mightily and were both Preseason All-Big 12 Team selections going into their final campaigns.
One of Higgins’ favorite memories was when she was a freshman and scored the winning goal in double overtime in the Big 12 Championship quarterfinals to move the Longhorns into the semifinals.
“This whole year we’ve wanted to work hard for our seniors, and Hannah has really emphasized how much it means to her and how much soccer means to her,” freshman midfielder Lindsey Meyer said. “Hannah on the field is just a leader in every way. I trust her. She’ll give constructive criticism to help, but she’s also very positive.”
Cummins, as a sophomore, recorded a hat trick against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a feat no Longhorn as done since. In this year’s first game against Dayton, she scored twice and assisted on another goal to help UT to a 3-2 overtime victory.
“She’s a great role model, and just to know that she’s there and is going to play for you and work hard with you has always been reassuring,” freshman forward Kelsey Shimmick said. “Kristin has always been very positive. At the beginning of the season when some of us freshmen were struggling with fitness drills, she was always right there to cheer us on and keep us going.”
It is always tough to say goodbye to teammates and friends. But it will be especially tough to say goodbye to these three young ladies. In a time when Texas Soccer was going through big changes, ups and downs and transitioning towards the future, these three seniors stuck with their teammates and their university.
They honored their pledge to the burnt orange and put Texas Soccer above themselves. They showed all the newcomers, both players and coaches, how big of a commitment it is to call yourself a Longhorn.
“As I’m counting days down, which I’ve never had to do before because there have always been more games, I’m realizing that I’m going to miss soccer so much,” Hoffman said. “I encourage incoming players to not take a second for granted, and not to let it pass you by because the four years goes by so quickly. And in the end, you just wish you could start it all over again.”