GAME REPORT: Texas downs USC in double overtime thriller

In front of a capacity crowd at McAlister Field on Sunday in Los Angeles, the Texas Longhorns orchestrated a stunning come from behind victory against the women of Troy. Playing in their most physical game to date so far this season, the Texas side fought back from a goal down to tie the match in the 81st minute and then scored the game winner in double overtime. Vanessa Ibewuike knocked in the overtime goal to give Texas the win.

With half of the near sold out McAlister stands filled with Texas supporters wearing burnt orange, it was the USC side that came out at the start ready to play. Supported by sideline cheerleaders and the USC band, the Trojans opened with a high tempo game plan and dominated possession in the first twenty minutes while the Texas side appeared relatively flat. The Trojans executed quality passes to move the ball around the pitch while looking for scoring chances. USC forward, Samantha Johnson, a U.S. U-20 National Team player, pounded two shots just a minute thirty seconds into the game, with both shots being blocked before reaching goal. Later, with the Trojans on the attack in the 34th minute, Johnson made a beautiful back heel pass inside the box to within six feet of Texas’ goal where Autumn Altamirano tapped the ball in to give USC the game’s first goal.

As has been the case for Texas so far this season, the Horns were slow getting up to full speed in the opening half. However, perhaps after a motivational talk at halftime from their coach, the Longhorns came out with a much higher level of play in the second half.

In the 2nd, the field began to slant towards the USC end as Texas kept the ball forward, searching for an opening to get an equalizer. In the 57th minute, Kristin Cummins had a great opportunity when she struck a header in front of the USC goal but just missed getting the ball on frame. – Kristin played an outstanding game overall at midfield today for the Horns and was a force to reckoned with throughout the match.

As the second half wore down, the Texas players appeared to be the better conditioned ones on the pitch as the USC side seemed to slow down a step.

Finally, with just 10 minutes left to play in the game, Texas seized an opportunity. USC committed a foul in their end, giving Texas a free kick in the offensive zone. Hannah Higgins served a perfect ball into the box setting off a mad scramble in front of the USC goal. Moments later Lexi Harris headed the ball out of the air into the Trojan goal to tie up the match. 

Regulation time expired with the score at 1 goal apiece, and the game moved to overtime. It was here that the extra conditioning work done by the Horns seemed to really payoff. In the first OT, Texas held possession for most of the period’s 10 minutes and kept the pressure on, looking for a way in. The Trojans appeared somewhat gassed as the Horns put up wave after wave of attacks.

Then, just 2 minutes into the second overtime, Amanda Lisberger made a big run down the left side. She fed the ball straight up the sideline to a streaking Hannah Higgins who outran her defender. Hannah executed a beautiful cut back and moved the ball into the box. Shelby Church, the USC keeper, came out to defend, and Hannah passed to Vanessa Ibewuike inside the box where Vanessa struck the ball home.

After a hard fought victory, Texas now moves to 6-2-0 on the season.
Next up will be the Baylor Bears at home in Austin on September 23rd.
Your Longhorn reporter has plans to be at the Baylor game (where funnily enough I will be attempting to detain a certain former Bear football player in an effort to make him sit on the Longhorn side of the field :)

By the numbers

Lucy Keith and Nina Frausing Pedersen logged 102 minutes (i.e. the entire match) out on the field. Texas keeper, Alexa Gaul, was also in goal for the entirety.
• The next highest in minutes played were Brooke Gilbert with 98 minutes at midfield, Amanda Lisberger with 97 minutes at outside back, and Lexi Harris with 97 minutes at midfield.
• The number of shots taken were relatively even with USC shooting 16 times and Texas taking 14 shots.
• Texas had 6 corner kicks to USC’s 4.
• Fouls were even with both Texas and USC committing 12 fouls each.

Three Stars of the Game

#1. The entire Texas back line (Lucy Keith, Nina Frausing Pedersen, Amanda Lisberger, Julie Arnold)

Largely shutting down star US U-20 National Team players such as Samantha Johnson and Elizabeth Eddy as well as Ashli Sandoval and Haley Boysen gives the whole Texas back line our first star of the game.

#2. Kristin Cummins

Kristin had her best game of the year so far. She was the best player on the field (for either side). A dominating force today at midfield.

#3. Hannah Higgins and Vanessa Ibewuike

Hannah assisted on both Texas goals and Vanessa scored the game winner. Our third star of the game goes to both of them!

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End note: Due to need to get up early for work tomorrow, I did not get to add everything I wanted to in this article. Things missing… 5 yellow cards handed out by an over-the-top referee, the incredible job Kylie Doniak did with defenders basically mugging her the entire game, the doubling up our own defenders did on the back line with Texas players closing on Haley Boysen every time she touched the ball preventing her from getting a clean shot off. Will try to expand this article with these points this coming week. Below is a photo of the pregame 9/11 ceremony that took place with both teams joining members of the Los Angeles Fire Department on the field.

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Pre-game 9/11 ceremony with the Texas and USC teams joining LA Fire Dept Station 15 in front of the American flag (photo courtesy of Jon Kondrath and USC Athletics)

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