After a wild season opener, Texas is likely hoping for a much quieter second game. A back-and-forth match with Gonzaga concluded after junior goalie Savannah Madden saved a penalty kick with just five seconds left, giving the Longhorns a 4-3 win and a sigh of relief.
With four players making their debuts as starters and the nerves of a new season to work through, Texas will look to continue to grow as a unit, starting with their two-game Colorado road trip. However, before traveling to Boulder to face the University of Colorado, the Longhorns will first match up with the University of Denver on Thursday night.
Texas’ offensive potential was shown in the opener and in the exhibition match against Air Force. When called upon, the Longhorns were able to flip the switch, scoring a combined nine goals between the two matches. Powered by senior forward Cyera Hintzen, Texas will look to keep the offensive pressure turned up.
Heading into this game, head coach Angela Kelly is probably spending extra time on team defense. Last week, the Bulldogs outshot Texas 23-15. Due to Gonzaga’s consistent and aggressive attack, the Longhorns, whether due to necessity or a lack of discipline, committed five more fouls than Gonzaga during the match.
“Their midfield was dominating at times, and they obviously put a lot of pressure on our backs,” Kelly said. “I thought we had moments. We have to continue to grow and play as a team and just make it a lot easier on ourselves.”
Although Texas would like a relatively smooth game, the team is facing a tough opponent in the Pioneers, who were picked in the preseason to win The Summit League by conference head coaches. Denver is a team on the rise, making the NCAA tournament the past two years.
Denver won more games during the 2018 season than they had during any season since 2013. The year culminated with a first round loss to Arizona, but excitement should be growing for the program. After a draw and victory to start off their 2019 season, Denver will relish the opportunity to take down a program with the name recognition of the Longhorns.
There are a few players to watch for in the Pioneers lineup, the first being senior midfielder Hannah Alder. Alder earned Summit League First Team honors in 2018, finishing second on her team with 21 points via seven goals and seven assists. Another key name is sophomore forward Samantha Feller. As a freshman, she was named the Summit League Freshman of the Year. Feller led the Pioneers with 22 points on the year, scoring nine goals and four assists.