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.
The Longhorns earned two important conference victories this past weekend, capturing the No. 3 seed in the Big-12 Tournament and delivering head coach Chris Petrucelli his 100th and 101st wins at UT. The team continued to play in a 3-5-2 against Missouri on Friday, Oct. 20 and Iowa State on Sunday, Oct. 22. The Horns struggled on Friday to integrate senior wing midfielder Amy Burlingham and junior wing midfielder Leslie Imber into the attack as the pair rarely touched the ball against Missouri. However, both Burlingham and Imber got more involved against Iowa State, penetrating their flank space and sending balls into the box. Burlingham especially looked dangerous as she took on her Iowa State opponents with speed. Her drives towards the endline resulted in the first goal of the match as a cross turned into a shot when the ball faded inside the far post. The endline runs combined with other dynamic runs up front, off the ball resulted in more chances on goal for the Longhorns against Iowa State. Forwards ran off each other in anticipation of through balls and flicks forward off punts from sophomore goalkeeper Dianna Pfenninger. While the Missouri defense frustrated leading goal scorer junior Kelsey Carpenter, who made few runs off the ball and rarely took players on Friday night, the Iowa State defense had no answer for her speed two days later. Carpenter and junior forward Caitlin Kennedy consistently threaded the backline and left the Cyclones chasing.
The Texas defense allowed only one goal to slip by over the weekend as Iowa State sent a rocket past Pfenninger during a lull in defensive focus. The Texas three-back limited the opposing forwards' ability to control the ball at feet and cut off balls sent over top. The backline successfully dropped in unison when the ball was played in behind, consistently beating the runners to the pass and sending the ball back to Pfenninger to clear. Though generally extremely solid in the backfield, Texas only looked threatened when giveaways in the midfield allowed for a quick counter attack. Quick through balls caught the backline off guard and occasionally forced an off balance retreat to catch a streaking player in the seams. Luckily, Texas outmatched their opponents in quickness and recovered in these few instances. However, Texas continues to allow their opponents to win most of the 50/50 and second balls in the midfield, relying on the backline or junior midfielder Greta Carter to prevent the opponent from gaining possession. In order to fine tune the team's defense from front to back, Texas will have to work to diminish the number of turnovers and challenge their opponents in the midfield in the air. The UT front line has to begin the defensive effort up top just as the Texas defense must contribute to the attack. Sophomore defender Stephanie Logterman continues to shine as she participates more and more in the Texas offense. Her speed and quickness allows her to take opponents by surprise when she penetrates up the flank or through the middle. For the second straight week, Logterman has taken the initiative to take on one-on-one situations and score from within the box.
THE COMING WEEK
Texas has the chance to upset another Top 10 team as they face No. 5 Texas A&M this Friday, Oct. 27 at Mike A. Meyers Stadium. The State Farm Lone Star Showdown presents one of the best contemporary team rivalries between the Longhorns and Aggies as both soccer programs have grown to national prominence. The Longhorns also have the good fortune to escape the magical crowd in College Station--A&M has the highest attendance of any program in the country--as the Aggies must travel to the Forty Acres to defend their Big-12 unbeaten streak. Texas A&M enters Friday's match with a powerful offensive attack that has put up 31 goals in Big-12 play alone (Texas has 17). The Texas defense will face its toughest challenge yet as the Aggies balanced attack can come from all directions. The backline cannot allow the forwards to receive the ball and turn and must anticipate the through balls out of the midfield. Texas must immediately step up to any player who gets the ball within 20 yards of the goal for the Aggies need little time to send in a dangerous cross or a powerful shot. On the opposite end, the Texas offense will have to continue to create up top and take every chance for a look at goal. In the end, the Aggies will show up with the desire to avenge their 2005 loss to Texas at home by spoiling the Longhorns' final 2006 home appearance. Texas will have to exceed their intensity, move the ball quickly, and play intelligently in order come out with another upset over the in-state rival.
STAMPS OF APPROVAL
STAMP'S PLAY OF THE WEEK: Senior midfielder Carrie Schmit received the ball at the center circle and quickly sent it through the Iowa State defensive line to a streaking Kelsey Carpenter. The junior forward used her speed to create a one-on-one with the on-rushing goalkeeper before slipping the ball into the lower right hand corner of the net for the game-winner.
STAMP'S PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Sophomore defender Stephanie Logterman squashed every opportunity the opposing players created from the left side by aggressively stepping in front to win the ball, anticipating passes into feet and in behind, and stealing the ball away from players with the audacity to take her on. While intelligently picking out players up top and crisply maintaining possession, Logterman was also able attack herself as she beat two Iowa State defenders before tallying her second goal on the year coming out of the backfield.