Texas wasted no time putting the ball in the back of the net Sunday against Seattle University. The only problem was that the first time didn’t count.
But the Longhorns, now 10-6-1, wouldn’t be denied as they used a second-half goal from freshman midfielder Brooke Gilbert to beat the Redhawks, 1-0, at Mike A. Myers Stadium.
Just four minutes into the match, Longhorns forward Kristin Cummins blasted a shot from outside the penalty box that Redhawks goalkeeper Madison Goverde kept out, but the save fell right at the feet of junior Vanessa Ibewuike who calmly put it in the back of the net. Problem was, Ibewuike was called offside.
After that, Texas struggled to build up any momentum on offense during the first half and went into the locker room tied 0-0.
“I think in the first half, we did a good job of keeping the ball,” said senior forward Kylie Doniak. “We were a little bit afraid to move forward and kind of put our attack on them. So once we started getting in the mindset of going to get a goal, it changed the attack a little bit, and then we were keeping possession to get to goal.”
Doniak, who had a header hit the crossbar in the 67th minute, has been limited by a knee injury but played her most minutes on Sunday since Sept. 11, when she played 82 minutes against Southern California.
It was also Doniak’s corner kick in the 73rd minute that landed at the feet of Gilbert, who in traffic was able to kick the ball into the bottom right corner of the goal before Seattle’s Goverde could recover it.
“The play right before, I almost got one so I was just really eager to get the next one,” said Gilbert, a Snohomish, Wash., native. “It was really exciting. My first goal against my hometown and a few of my friends, so that’s always nice.”
The game proved to one of firsts for Gilbert as she started on defense for the first time this season after starting all 16 games at midfielder. Despite being nervous, the rookie was up to the challenge.
“I’ve played in the back before with the national team a few times, so it wasn’t too bad,” Gilbert said. “I just knew that I needed to stay focused and just play safe and get the job done.”
Gilbert became the Longhorns’ third freshman starter on the back line, after usual starting central defender Nina Frausing Pedersen was asked to play forward for the first time because of injuries to other strikers.
Sunday’s match showcased again just how much young talent Texas has, as five rookies started for Texas head coach Chris Petrucelli, and a total of seven freshmen saw the field.
“I don’t know if they could have done any better,” Petrucelli said of his freshmen defensive starters. “[Seattle] didn’t get a goal, so I was happy and confident in the way that they played. I felt like Brooke did quite well for us dropping into the center back, and I’m proud of them.”
Up next for the Longhorns is their regular season against rival Texas A&M on Sunday in Austin before traveling to San Antonio to kick off the Big 12 tournament on Wednesday.
“It’s really good to have a good win and have that going into Texas A&M because that’s a big game that we need to win,” Gilbert said.