Angela Kelly

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

The women’s soccer season came to a close Friday with a 2-1 loss to No. 12 Notre Dame in College Station.

Texas fought hard against one of the best teams in the country, but an 85th-minute score by Notre Dame forward Karin Muya broke the stalemate and sent the Fighting Irish to a third-round match against Texas A&M on Sunday. 

“Credit to Notre Dame, there was execution at the end, and that was what it was going to take,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “It was a battle. Our midfield battled with one of the top midfields in the country.”

Things looked promising for the Longhorns early on, as the Texas backline, which has been solid all season, continued its tough play Friday. The defenders stifled the Irish set pieces, and a sliding clearance by senior defender Julie Arnold kept the Irish off the board for much of the first half.

A goal by junior midfielder Lindsey Meyer just after the 19-minute mark gave the Longhorns an early advantage. Senior midfielder Sharis Lachappelle floated a pass from the left corner that sailed to the far post in position for the 5-foot-9 Meyer to nod a shot into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.

The Longhorn defense looked like it would hold the Irish scoreless for the rest of the first half, but Muya’s 42nd-minute cross found Notre Dame forward Anna Gilbertson, who whipped in a shot from 9 yards out to knot the game up just before halftime.

The second half looked like it would remain deadlocked, as the Irish did not manage a second-half shot until the 63rd minute. 

Then Muya, the Notre Dame freshman phenom, struck again. A long floater from the left boundary sailed over the Texas defense and fell right at Muya’s feet. She fired a shot that squeezed just inside the left post to break the deadlock with five minutes to go in regulation.

Ensuing Texas attempts to equalize sailed wide, and the roller coaster 2014 season ended with the Irish taking away a 2-1 comeback win.

The loss was the last match for some of the Longhorns’ most important contributors on the season. The backline will graduate starters Arnold and senior defenders Brooke Gilbert and Whitney Jaynes. Midfield stalwart Lachappelle will graduate, too.

“I’m really proud of our senior class and the strides that this program has made in the short time we’ve been here,” Kelly said. “We are going to use this as a platform to
go forward.”

Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Last Friday, Texas was clinging on to the last spot in the Big 12 tournament. The Longhorns had dropped three of their last four conference games and were travelling to battle tough conference foes Oklahoma and Baylor.

The weekend ended with Texas stealing two close wins on the road, including a thriller against Baylor that came down to a goal by sophomore midfielder Julia Dyche in the last minute of regulation.

“In this league, it’s fantastic any time you can have success, especially on the road,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “Getting away wins is a really difficult challenge, and I’m really proud of our team. It was a tremendous success for us and our program.”

Texas will hope to carry its newfound confidence back to Austin when it takes on Oklahoma State on Friday at 7 p.m., the first matchup between the two since the Cowgirls eliminated the Longhorns in the first round of last year’s Big 12 tournament.

Oklahoma State, though, could be the obstacle that halts Texas’ momentum before the conference tournament this season. The Cowgirls are a respectable 9-8-1 on the season but have rolled to a 4-2-1 record against opponents from the deep Big 12.

The Oklahoma State defense, led by senior keeper Rosa Medina, is far from perfect, conceding 1.28 goals per game to Texas’ 0.89 mark, but the Longhorn attack still has to prove it’s capable of capitalizing on a poor defense. 

“Its all about us,” Kelly said. “We aren’t going to be reactive; we’re going to be proactive. That’s been our message since day one”

The Cowgirls could finish as high as second in the conference rankings if they can knock off the Longhorns. Fortunately for the Cowgirls, the team knows a thing or two about playing in high-pressure situations. Head coach Colin Carmichael has ushered Oklahoma State to the NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship tournament in seven of the last nine seasons, and his team has won four of the last six Big 12 titles.

Texas’ emotions in the regular season finale will only be compounded by the fact that some of its best players could be walking onto the pitch at Mike A. Meyers Stadium for the last time in their careers.

“The four years have blown by, and I can’t believe its already my senior night,” defender Brooke Gilbert said. “Being able to play with my best friends and us seniors who have been here since the beginning and then just being able to share this moment with them on my senior night is — I can’t even describe it.”

Texas still has a chance to host a round of the NCAA tournament, but the Longhorns will need to make a deep run in the Big 12 tournament and receive some help from a few other teams if they hope to host a round of the collegiate championship in Austin.

“Whatever happens, we know that we have the ability to beat anyone,” Gilbert said. “We just beat two big opponents, so we can take anyone, and especially Oklahoma State, at home. We’re more than ready.”

Volunteer soccer coach Kristine Lilly notched 352 caps for the US Women’s Nation- al Team, scoring 130 international goals in route to two World Cup Championships and two Olympic Gold Medals.

Photo Credit: Texas Sports

The Texas athletic program has seen some great athletes switch to coaching after calling it quits on their playing careers. Football defensive coordinator Vance Bedford, track and field head coach Mario Sategna and assistant baseball coach Tommy Nicholson had solid collegiate careers, but none of them were considered the best in the history of their sport.

Volunteer soccer coach Kristine Lilly, though, has a legitimate claim to that title. The former stalwart midfielder notched 352 caps for the US Women’s National Team — the most in the history of the sport for men or women — scored 130 international goals and won two World Cups to match her two Olympic Gold Medals.

“That’s the best player in the world,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “From [FC Barcelona forward] Messi on down to [Brazilian women’s national team star] Marta, there isn’t a player on the men’s or women’s side that wouldn’t have the utmost respect for Kristine Lilly, and that’s awesome.”

Lilly’s addition to the coaching staff is especially significant for the players who grew up seeing her on television.

“I feel like everybody watched her,” junior goalkeeper Abby Smith said. “Its just a great opportunity to have one of the best players to come coach.”

In 2010, Lilly played her 23rd and final season for the national team and began to think about coaching soon after her retirement. She interviewed for a spot on the Longhorn staff in 2012 but was hesitant to commit to the job so soon after the birth of her second daughter. By August of 2014, though, Lilly and her family were ready to move to Austin so that she could begin her coaching with Kelly, Lilly’s collegiate teammate at North Carolina and the godmother of her youngest child. 

The transition from pitch to sidelines for the first-year coach has already changed her perspective on the game.

“It’s a lot easier to be a critic when you’re watching,” Lilly said. “When you’re in the game, it’s not as easy because its moving so quickly. You have to have the patience and realization to share that with them.”

She will continue that progression Friday at 7 p.m. when the Longhorns (7-5-2, 2-2-0 Big 12) travel to TCU (7-5-3, 0-2-3 Big 12).

But there’s also a balance Lilly has to see. Paid professional athletes can focus all of their attention on getting better, but most collegiate athletes will never make it to the pros and have to balance their academic pursuits with staying fit for elite competition. The dual commitment required to be a student-athlete is not lost on Lilly.

Lilly gave birth to her first daughter during her career, then returned to playing and had the monumental task of balancing motherhood with World Cup aspirations.

“If you want to play soccer, you’ve gotta do the other stuff,” said Lilly while glancing over her shoulder to watch her two toddlers kick a soccer ball back and forth with Kelly. “On the national team now, I think there’s two moms. You can do it.”

The new coach is most concerned with making sure her players enjoy the game that has given her so much.

“I like to see the response of the players. I like to see them get it,” Lilly said. “It’s been fun for me, and that’s what I want them to realize. It can be fun. You can work hard, but it can be fun.”

Freshman midfielder Chelbi Orrick and the Longhorns have had a tough schedule that isn’t letting up anytime soon, as Texas takes on No. 11 Kansas on Friday.

Photo Credit: Mike McGraw | Daily Texan Staff

The best teams in the nation will continue their barrage on the women’s soccer team’s schedule this weekend when the No. 11 Kansas Jayhawks (13-1-0) take on Texas (7-4-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. at Mike A. Meyers Stadium.

Head coach Angela Kelly does not seem too concerned about the possibility of her team collapsing under the pressure of yet another ranked conference foe. Kelly, instead, gushed over her team’s performance against Iowa State and sounded like a head coach with postseason aspirations.

“We played some of the best soccer that I’ve seen Texas soccer play since I’ve been here on Friday evening,” Kelly said. “It tells me that they are earning everything that they’ve been given. That they’re recovering. That they are physically, mentally and emotionally mature, and that excites me for this program.”

The Jayhawks will try to test that maturity with a high-pressure defense that has smothered some of the best teams in the nation. Kansas cruises into Austin with a mere seven goals allowed through 14 games. Senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud has been the anchor of the Jayhawk defense, repelling a Big 12-best 90 percent of opponents’ shots on goal.

The Jayhawks’ elite back line should match up very well against a Longhorn squad that in recent weeks has struggled, especially in the first half, to light up the scoreboard.   

“Obviously we need to work on some things, and I think we’ve taken care of that,” senior defender Whitney Jaynes said. “I think it’s good playing hard in the second half and knowing that we can come out hard in the first half too, so we’ll just keep working on that.”

The Longhorns have been able to secure a 2-2-1 record against ranked opponents this season, but, if they want to continue that success, they will have to threaten the opposing net for the entire 90 minutes.

“We want to be a 90-minute squad, and that’s from the opening whistle, and we want to maintain that kind of consistency throughout the course of a match,” Kelly said. “We’ve talked a lot to our players about that, and I think they’re up to the challenge.”

If the Longhorns can play the same high-energy tight press defense that shut out then No. 6 Texas Tech and held then No. 1 UCLA scoreless for 86 straight minutes, Kansas may have to wait a few more years to get its first win in Austin.

Senior midfielder Sharis Lachapelle slid for a shot against No.1 UCLA on Friday night with 24 minutes remaining. Lachapelle's shot missed, leaving Texas scoreless in the 1-0 loss. 

Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

It’s clear from the box score that the women's soccer team lost its third game in a row 1-0 against No. 1 UCLA on Friday. That being said, Texas gave the defending national champion its best challenge of the season thus far, and a 2-0 win on Sunday over Texas State should quell any fears of a stagnant offense. Texas’ performance against collegiate elite showed this team has the necessary attributes to make a run in the postseason.

“If that’s the number one team in the country, I’m really excited about where we are,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “We’re just going to crank up the tempo, crank up the heat and continue to move forward.” 

As soon as the Longhorns kicked off to start the game, UCLA stole the ball away and hoverd dangerously around the Texas goal. The Longhorn defenders sprinted around the field to pressure the Bruins, but less than three minutes into regulation, Bruin senior midfielder Sam Mewis received a line drive cross right in front of the Texas net and tapped it in to take an early lead. 

The Longhorns’ tight press defense continued after conceding the goal, but the offense failed to harness Texas’ energy and hustle. The Longhorns charged forward when they gained possession, but when they rushed the follow-up passes, UCLA defenders positioned themselves to regain possession.

“We were intercepting passes in the first half, and we weren’t having the confidence on the ball to execute a second pass,” Kelly said. “Now we just have to have composure in the mid to the attacking third with the final pass.”

The Texas offense settled down in the second half and began stringing together passes for some extended possession. Four of the Longhorns’ five shots in the game came in the second half, as did all three of their shots on goal.

Three shots on goal may seem like a disappointing total, but that is the highest total that the smothering UCLA defense had allowed on the season since Pepperdine managed two shots on goal.

The Longhorns’ best chance of the night came with 24 minutes remaining, when senior midfielder Sharis Lachapelle slid to meet a cross with only the goalie between her and pay dirt. The shot, however, popped up harmlessly for an easy save by UCLA senior keeper Katelyn Rowland.

The Bruins had a flurry of shots to end the game, but a diving save by junior keeper Abby Smith and high pressure from the Texas defenders held the Bruins scoreless for 87 minutes after their initial goal.

“We kept them in front and besides that one opportunity, I think we did well,” Smith said. “We created a new standard for ourselves.” 

The Longhorns lived up to that new standard Sunday when they defeated Texas State 2-0. Lachapelle and sophomore forward Jasmine Hart provided the scoring and helped Texas unleash 26 shots, including 11 on goal.

Texas’ next action comes Friday at 7 p.m. in the Big 12 opener at home against Texas Tech.

Senior midfielder Sharis Lachappelle, who leads the team with 19 shots, will try to add to her total Friday against a UCLA team that has allowed just 18 shots on the season, five of those on goal.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

A pair of losses on the road this past weekend put a halt to the women’s soccer team’s otherwise promising start to the season, and it won’t get any easier this weekend when the reigning NCAA champions roll into Austin. 

No. 1 UCLA (6-0-1) will be the first test of the weekend on Friday at 7:30 p.m. before Texas heads down the road to San Marcos to take on Texas State (4-2-1) Sunday at 7 p.m. The games will give the unranked Longhorns (4-2-2) a chance to halt their current skid and vault them into consideration for a top-25 rank. Or, very easily, they could continue the skid and make their uphill climb much more difficult. 

“I believe at any given moment, [the Bruins] have eight senior starters that have played internationally,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “We will pursue the best talent in the country, and if UCLA is the reigning national champion, then we want to use this game as a litmus test and go after it.”

The defending champion Bruins are riding a surge that started early last season and shows no signs of stopping. UCLA’s last defeat came 29 games ago when the team lost a 1-0 match on the road against North Carolina over a year ago.

At first glance, UCLA senior goalkeeper Katelyn Rowland appears to have been the driving force behind the Bruins’ success in the early going. The national team stalwart has recorded 638 consecutive minutes of shutout ball this season and holds the UCLA record for career shutouts with 42.

However, Rowland may not even be the most feared aspect of the Bruin defense. That title goes to the UCLA defenders, who have allowed a mere 18 shots all season, with only five of those on goal.

If the Longhorns do have a silver lining in their matchup against the best defense team   in the nation, it is the Texas offense, led by freshman forward Olivia Brook and senior defender Brooke Gilbert; it has had no problems creating shots recently. Even in last weekend’s shutouts, the team managed 14 shots in each game.

The Longhorns appear poised to take on the challenge despite being massive underdogs.

“All the pressure is on them,” senior midfielder Sharis Lachappelle said. “They have everything to lose, and we have everything to gain.”

Texas State is no UCLA, but the Bobcats have put together a solid showing early on and their defense has only allowed five goals all season. Texas State is undefeated at home, which does not bode well for a Longhorn team that has struggled on the road this season.

Kelly, though, does not appear worried about her team’s early road troubles.

“It would be similar for any squad,” Kelly said. “It’s just not as much of a controlled environment, but any high-level quality player is used to those types of things.”

Freshman forward Olivia Brook became the first Texas freshman to score five goals in her first five career matches.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

The women’s soccer team (4-0-2) will continue its trend of playing at America’s finest beach towns this weekend at the USF Soccer Classic in Tampa, Florida. The Longhorns will take on two tough opponents — Central Florida (3-2-0) at 3:30 p.m. Friday and South Florida (3-2-1) at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.

Texas has gone all over the U.S. so far this season, beginning with a trip to Hawaii, defeating Texas A&M-Corpus Christi last weekend and going to southern Florida this weekend. 

“We’ve played — I’m not even sure how many — different conferences in different time zones,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “We’re here to put Texas on the map.”

The Longhorns have serious business to take care of this weekend, which will cut into any potential beach time. Central Florida was ranked No. 17 last week with its only loss coming against No. 12 Texas A&M, but a 1-0 loss to an unranked Georgia team Sunday dropped the Knights out of the top 25.

South Florida was shut out twice in its first three games of the season, but the Bulls have rebounded since then and are in the midst of a three game-winning streak.

Texas should have no problem facing the challenge. The Longhorns are undefeated through six games for just the second time in program history, and their offense has gotten a huge boost from one of its newcomers.

Freshman forward Olivia Brook has been the focal point of the Longhorn attack and recently became the first freshman in program history to score five goals in the first five matches of her career. The attacker’s efforts earned her the title of Big 12 Conference Newcomer of the Week.

“She’s been terrific for our program at the beginning of her freshman year,” Kelly said. “She’s a sponge tactically, is always well-prepared and is the epitome of hard work through demonstrating 100 percent effort in training and preparation each day.”

Extending Texas’ lead to 2-0, junior forward Chantale Campbell scored in the final minute against Montana.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Garza | Daily Texan Staff

Head coach Angela Kelly wanted to see her team play at a higher tempo and put the ball in the back of the net against A&M Corpus Christi and Montana.

Kelly got what she wanted Friday as the Longhorns (4-0-2) launched a 6-0 barrage against A&M Corpus Christi to remain unbeaten this season.

The Longhorns did not get on the scoreboard until a free kick by senior defender Brooke Gilbert found junior midfielder Lindsey Meyer eight yards from goal at 32:58 into the match, but a five-goal second half alleviated any concerns about the Texas attack.

The Longhorns carried the momentum back home Sunday with a 2-0 win against Montana. The Longhorns launched 23 shots to Montana’s six and kept fantastic possession in their opponent’s territory. A second-half penalty kick by Gilbert and a long goal in the final minute by junior forward Chantale Campbell drove the offense.

Texas’ next competition comes this weekend at the USF Soccer Classic in Tampa, Florida, with a game Friday at 3:30 p.m. against Central Florida and a matchup Sunday at 10:30 a.m. against South Florida.

Junior goalie Abby Smith scored her second career goal earlier this season against Arizona State. The Texas and U-23 national team keeper has balanced her two roles, working to become a leader of the Texas team.

Photo Credit: Ethan Oblak | Daily Texan Staff

Most goalies are relegated to preventing goals, but keeper Abby Smith is asked to score them.   

In last weekend’s contest against Arizona State, the junior rocketed a 45-yard free kick into the back of the net for her second career goal and then returned to her own side of the field and proceeded to record three saves in a double overtime draw. 

“Her ability to be a weapon on the offensive side of things is something that 99 percent of the other coaches in the country don’t have,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “As teams are trying to prepare for her ability in-goal, they are also trying to prepare for her as an offensive threat.” 

Smith’s goals make for stylish highlights, but it’s her talent as a shot stopper that makes her an essential asset in Texas’ quest for an NCAA Tournament appearance. Last weekend, Smith notched 12 saves over the two-game homestand and held No. 22 Arkansas scoreless in a 120-minute draw. 

The strong performance earned Smith a spot on Top Drawer Soccer’s National Team of the Week. 

Smith is used to national recognition by now. In 2009, she caught the attention of the US Women’s National Team coaches, who named her to the national under-17 squad. 

Since then, she has been a fixture in the USA system and earned a spot on the 2012 U-20 Women’s World Cup team. She currently represents her country in the U-23 circuit, and the addition of Women’s World Cup champion and former USWNT star Kristine Lilly to the Texas coaching staff should help Smith in her climb to the senior team. 

Despite these different commitments, the star goalkeeper is not held back by conflicting interests or caught between two coaches playing tug-of-war for her focus. 

“[The national team] is really understanding,” Smith said. “UT has been great with working with it and helping me out.”

Kelly views national team exposure as an invaluable experience for her veteran keeper. 

“Nothing conflicts with representing your country,” Kelly said. “That’s why you prepare. Any time that Abby is selected, we are going to be so excited to support her.” 

Smith’s collegiate and international experience has earned the attention and respect of the underclassmen and thrust new leadership responsibilities onto the junior. 

“[My role] changed a little bit just because the underclassmen look up to the upperclassmen,” Smith said. “If something’s going wrong, they ask [me] or they ask the leaders on the team.” 

It is hard to find an area that Smith needs to improve upon now that veteran leadership has been added to her resume that already includes elite goal-keeping skills and the ability to contribute to the offense. But Smith looks forward to her years ahead.

“The only thing that Abby could do for herself is expedite time,” Kelly said. “The best days in a goalkeeper’s career are [ages] 28,29 [and] 30. We’re just excited that we get to spend four years with her, and she’s representing Texas.” 

Photo Credit: Joe Capraro | Daily Texan Staff

Texas soccer surpassed preseason expectations during its conference matchups, finishing third in the Big 12 instead of a projected sixth, despite its core offense consisting of underclassmen. 

Now, coming off a loss to Texas Tech, the young team must rally as it takes on Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship Wednesday.

“This is cup time,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “It’s do or die, and we have to win. Our sense of urgency has to go up, but at the same time have the same philosophy that we’ve shared since day one. We have to execute and take care of everything. There’s no added preparation or pressure. [We] just have to go after it.”

In 2012, Texas lost in the semifinals to TCU in a 4-2 shootout after a scoreless game.

Last season the team finished with a poor 8-10-2 overall record, including a mere 4-4 record in the Big 12. This year’s team improved its overall record to 12-5-2 and 5-2-1 in conference. The only two conference losses came to West Virginia and Texas Tech, the two teams ranked higher than Texas.

Despite going into the tournament coming off a loss, sophomore forward Kelsey Shimmick doesn’t think that will affect the outcome.

“I don’t think it gave us a bad mindset,” Shimmick said. “It lit a fire under us. We like our chances if we have to play them again, because they didn’t see the real Texas Longhorns. We can beat any team in the tournament.”

A young team, most of Texas’ statistical leaders are sophomores and juniors. Three freshmen have scored at least one goal, and the only senior to log real playing time this season is midfielder Gabby Zarnegar, who has two goals and four assists.

Shimmick’s four goals put her in a tie for the team lead, along with junior midfielder Sharis Lachappelle, sophomore midfielder Lindsey Meyer and junior defender Brooke Gilbert. Sophomore forward Chantale Campbell, who has three goals of her own, leads the team in assists with five.

Kelly said her team is dynamic all over the field and that makes it hard for other teams to keep up.

“They look at the personalities and have to figure out how to stop us,” Kelly said. “How are they going to stop Abby Smith’s distribution? How are they going to break down our backs? How are they going to deal with Kelsey, Sharis and Chantale?”

Meyer believes the team is prepared for the tournament, but knows progressing in the tournament will add challenges.

“The way we’re looking at it is one game at a time,” Meyer said. “We’re focusing only on Oklahoma State. Our coaches have been helping us take care of our bodies to play three games in six days.”