After losing two consecutive games during their Colorado road trip, Texas has now won both of their last two matches, following up their victory over the SFA LadyJacks with a win over Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Sunday night.
“Since that weekend (of the Colorado road trip) this team has grown so much on both sides of the ball,” Texas head coach Angela Kelly said. “That was such a valuable experience for us. We really grew, and we’re now that much better for it.”
Texas scored all three of their goals in the first half, with the first coming just 46 seconds into the game when sophomore midfielder Kailey Smith’s shot bounced off the right bar and onto the back of the opposing goalkeeper, rolling in for the score.
The quick start on offense is a welcome change for the team, which has struggled generating offense during the first half of games. This inability to start strong has played a role in the relative lack of success the team has had so far this season. The improvement in this match was no accident.
“I think we just need to step on our defenders and make them feel our presence in the beginning of games,” sophomore midfielder Julia Grosso said. “Earlier in the season we didn’t do that as much, but we’re starting to understand that more. It’s honestly all mindset.”
Grosso was responsible for the team’s next two goals. The first came on an assist by Grosso after she drove the ball up the left wing before crossing the ball to the right side of the box to a streaking junior midfielder Haley Berg.
“The assist was really exciting to help my teammates score. When I did that it really motivated me to keep pushing,” Grosso said. “I saw Haley get into the box like she usually does, I got it safely to her and she scored the goal.”
Berg has now scored three goals in the last two games after failing to register a goal in the team’s first three matches. Her performance has helped the team turn a corner on offense.
“I don’t think there’s anything I’ve done personally,” Berg said. “The team has just realized what we need to do better, and we’ve just been doing it. That’s opened up spaces for not only me but also Julia, Kailey and all different kinds of people.”
The confidence boost Grosso received from the assist paid dividends less than two minutes later when Grosso scored a goal of her own, landing a strike from 19 yards at the top of the box.
While the offensive improvements were a welcomed change, it was the defensive side of the ball that really stood out. The Islanders registered just three shots on goal in the entire game. This was Texas’ first shutout win of the season, a testament to the quality of the performance.
“We really pride ourselves on being stingy on the defensive side,” Kelly said. “The thing I’m most proud of this evening is that clean sheet. That’s where everything has to start from.”
The Longhorns will next take the field on Friday, Sept. 13 at home against the University of Washington. The team will look to claim a third consecutive win.