GAME REPORT: Texas Soccer downs Missouri 2-1

Texas came out determined today to finish a two game road trip on a high note by securing a victory. After going down a goal early to Missouri this afternoon, the Horns immediately responded with two unanswered goals of their own and then proceeded to dominate the ball on their way to a 2-1 victory over the Tigers. Texas’ goals came from Lexi Harris at 21:37 and Allison Smith at 36:36.

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Starting today for Texas were Lucy Keith, Nina Frausing Pedersen, Julie Arnold, and Whitney Jaynes on the back line. – Whitney got the call today on defense after Amanda Lisberger, the starting left back for the Horns this year, suffered an injury in the game against Kansas. At midfield the Horns started Brooke Gilbert, Kristin Cummins, and Lexi Harris, the same super trio who have started every game for the Horns at midfield so far this year. Up top, Hannah Higgins, Vanessa Ibewuike, and Taylor Knaack started for the Horns at forward, with Vanessa at the center forward position. (Kylie Doniak remained in Austin this weekend as she works to recover from an unfortunate knee injury suffered three weeks ago.)

In goal for Texas was Alexa Gaul, the Horns’ dominating goalkeeper who has recorded 4 shutouts so far this year.

(On the Mizzou side of the field, Coach Bryan Blitz was back on the sideline today after sitting out Friday’s game against Texas A&M due to a red card incurred during a Tigers road game at Oklahoma State last weekend.)

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First Half

Texas came out strong in the first four minutes of the game with both Taylor Knaack and Hannah Higgins getting shots on goal against Missouri . Both shots were saved by Mizzou goalkeeper, Sauerwein McKenzie.

At about five minutes into the game, the tide appeared to turn in favor of Missouri. The Tigers came alive and Texas came under pressure. At nine minutes into the game, Missouri served in a series of four corner kicks, setting off action in front of the Texas goal. Two shots ensued, one of which was on goal and saved by Alexa Gaul.

Then in the 13th minute, the Tigers’ Haley Krentz took a laser shot from 25 yards out which skipped off the underside of the Texas crossbar and went in for a Missouri goal. It was a solid strike from the junior midfielder out of Naperville, Illinois, and, in any other circumstance, it might have disheartened the opposing team. The Horns, however, responded by turning  up the volume (“But this one goes to eleven”) and displayed a fierce determination to win, brushing aside any idea that going down an early goal was problematic.

At 21 minutes into the game, Taylor Knaack ran the ball forward down the right side of the field. She passed across to Hannah Higgins near the goalmouth who then got the ball out into open space on the far side of the box. Lexi Harris came up to meet the ball, then fired a low shot into the Missouri goal.  Texas had gotten its equalizer just nine minutes after the initial Missouri score.

Three minutes after the restart, Taylor Knaack took a shot on goal that was saved by McKenzie Sauerwein. Vanessa Ibewuike, who displayed great ball skills during the entire game, got off a shot at 28:02 which went just wide.

A round of substitutions brought Leah Payne on for Julie Arnold at right back, Gabby Zarnegar on for Vanessa Ibewuike at center forward, and Allison Smith for Brooke Gilbert at midfield.

At 33:02, Lucy Keith got off a header in front of the Mizzou goal which went wide but Lucy suffered a collision in the process. She went down momentarily and Texas fans held their breath hoping the Texas captain was okay. A few seconds later Lucy jumped up and streaked back up the field to her defensive position while appearing none the worse for the wear. (Someone should perhaps check Lucy for bionic components.)

At 35:39, Cierra Grubbs came in on the back line for Whitney Jaynes. This was Cierra’s first ever appearance on the field as a Longhorn, an exciting moment for the Texas freshman. It wouldn’t be the only first though. A minute later, at 36:35, Texas freshman Allison Smith pounded the ball into the back of the Missouri net from close range. The assist came from Hannah Higgins. It was Allison’s first goal as a Longhorn and also turned out to be the game winner for the Texas side. Not a bad day when your first goal ever as a Horn turns out to be the game winner!

Unrecorded as a player on the official stat sheet (a temporary error soon to be corrected by officials) was Stacey-Ann Smith who displayed unbelievable speed when she raced forward to track down balls that would have passed over the end line had it not been for her ability to get forward with velocity.

At 39:40, Taylor Johnson came on for Lexi Harris at midfield.

When the period ended after 45 minutes of play, Texas had taken 8 shots to Missouri’s 9. Missouri had scored early but Texas had come back to equalize and then take the lead.

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Second Half

Gabby Zarnegar started the second half upfront for the Horns, with Hannah Higgins on standby for substitution.

In an eight minute stretch after the 51st minute, Texas took five shots in relatively quick order. Taylor Knaack got it started with two shots, one wide and the other high. Kristin Cummins took a shot high. Then Vanessa Ibewuike got two shots off, one saved by McKenzie Sauerwein, the other going high.

At 58:03, Allison Smith checked in for Lexi Harris at midfield (one goal scorer checking in for the other) and Allison would be wasting no time trying for her second goal as a Longhorn.

At 59:25, Hannah Higgins came on for Gabby Zarnegar upfront.

At 64:41, Leah Payne checked in on the back line for Whitney Jaynes.

At 65:33, Gabby came back on, this time for Taylor Knaack.

In the 67th minute, Julie Arnold took a shot which was blocked. Then Allison Smith had a go at it. Her first shot of the second half was blocked. She found the ball again, though, in a scrum near the goal mouth and shot again, this time going just wide.

At 72:25, Taylor Knaack came back in, this time for Vanessa Ibewuike upfront

At 73:00, the Texas goal scorers replaced each other again with Lexi Harris coming back in for Allison Smith at midfield.

Kristin Cummins took a shot on goal in the 78th minute which was saved by McKenzie Sauerwein. Two minutes later Taylor Knaack took a shot which was saved by McKenzie.

At 85:08, Vanessa Ibewuike shot on goal. The save was made by McKenzie. Thirty seconds later Taylor Knaack shot again. The save was made by McKenzie.

By the time the game ended after 90 minutes, Taylor Knaack had taken 6 shots, 4 of which were on goal, and she had also recorded an assist on the tying goal. Vanessa Ibewuike had recorded 6 shots, 3 of which were on goal. Hannah Higgins had taken a shot on goal and had recorded assists on both Longhorn goals. Kristin Cummins had taken 2 shots, with one being on goal, plus she was a force to be reckoned with everywhere. And then there were the goal scorers! Allison Smith, coming off the bench, won the game for the Horns. She took 3 shots in the game, with one going in for the game winner. Lexi Harris took one shot in the game and it was perfect, going in for the equalizer. Brooke Gilbert could not be pushed off the ball and was a royal pain for the opposition. Who have I missed? Julie Arnold had a shot and sucked it up to keep office hours on the back line despite a ridiculously swollen and painful ankle. The great defender Lucy Keith had a shot and was a force majeure on the back line. Lucy in fact needs to change her name to Jamie Sommers because frankly, she is the Bionic Woman. Nina Frausing Pedersen was her usual rock steady presence holding down the fort on the back line with Lucy at center back. Leah Payne covered beautifully at left back. Stacey-Ann Smith displayed her breathtaking speed in tracking down balls up front. Cierra Grubbs and Taylor Johnson got in for playing time.

And then, saving the best for last of course, there was Alexa Gaul, an aggressive force and a dominating presence in goal. Alexa finished with 4 saves and a few bruises. Aside from the stat sheet, Alexa came out of goal to take booming free kicks forward in the Longhorn half of the field (in addition to firing her goal kicks from back in her office).
– Alexa is totally unafraid to come tearing out of the goalmouth to grab a ball in space before a shot can be taken. If all of those shutdowns were recorded as stats (and a case can be made that they should be), Alexa would easily have twice as may saves as she gets credit for. Next time you thank your lucky stars that you get to live in Texas, thank those same lucky stars that Alexa Gaul lives here too!

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In addition to all of all of the above, the Horns displayed beautiful ball possession and passing, especially in specific stretches and for almost the entire second half. While a few balls where given away on passes, a great majority of the passes were on the numbers and solid. Texas won the possession and passing game, in turn frustrating and tiring the Mizzou Tigers. Next up for Texas is Oklahoma at home on Friday, October 7th at 7:00pm.

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Texas players stretching on the field after the game
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By The Numbers:

Running Forever (mids and forwards):  Kristin Cummins (90 minutes on the field), Taylor Knaack (83 minutes), Brooke Gilbert (77 minutes), Hannah Higgins (76 minutes).

Ironwomen (defenders):  Lucy Keith (90 minutes), Nina Frausing Pedersen (90 minutes)

In goal: Alexa Gaul, 4 saves  (90 minutes in goal)

Other starter minutes:
Lexi Harris, 70 minutes
Whitney Jaynes, 70 minutes
Julie Arnold, 70 minutes
Vanessa Ibewuike, 67 minutes

Sub player minutes:
Gabby Zarnegar, 44 minutes
Leah Payne, 30 minutes
Allison Smith, 28 minutes
Stacey-Ann Smith, 10 minutes
Cierra Grubbs, 9 minutes
Taylor Johnson, 5 minutes

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Texas shots: 8 in first half, 13 in second half (Total: 21 shots)
11 of the 21 Texas shots were on goal, with 2 going in.
Shots on goal percentage: 52%

Missouri shots: 9 in first half, 8 in second half (Total: 17 shots)
5 of the 17 Missouri shots were on goal, with 3 going in
Shots on goal percentage: 29%

• Corner kicks: Texas 4, Missouri 5

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Number of sub players with 10 minutes or more:
Texas 4, Missouri 6

Subs numbers
Shots by subs: Texas 3, Missouri 7
Goals by subs:  Texas 1, Missouri 0

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Fouls: Texas 6, Missouri 8
Yellow Cards: none

Attendance: 522

Texas vs Missouri stats (PDF)  (still needs correction by officials)

RPI Tracker: Texas’ RPI number after today’s win is 65. Generally speaking, Texas will need a 64 or higher to make the NCAA Tournament which starts November 12th.

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Three Stars of the Game For Texas

• Every Texas player on the field. A tremendous effort by the entire team!

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