Texas squad set to kick of?f against foes to the north

Lauren Giudice

Riding the momentum of a three-game winning streak, Texas faces the meat of its Big 12 schedule at home this weekend against undefeated No. 5 Oklahoma State and Oklahoma.
Texas is currently in fifth place in the Big 12 at 3-2-2 and hopes to continue its recent midseason success.

The team has an excellent chance of making the Big 12 playoffs, which requires that they stay in the top eight in standings. The Longhorns hope to improve their seed this weekend.
Last season, Texas lost to Oklahoma State, 1-0, and beat OU in overtime, 2-1.

Assistant coach Sarah Barnes said the end of the season is when you want the team to be playing their best.

“They have last year’s experiences under their belt and then, obviously, we are toward the end of the season,” Barnes said. “They just have a lot of games and a lot more experience.”
Barnes said the underclassmen have stepped up and have been playing like upperclassmen.

“We played well early on [in the season] and I think we hit a little bit of a bump sort of midseason and obviously we are hoping that we sort of have stepped past that,” Barnes said.
That bump taught the team to keep moving forward and to focus on one game at a time.

Both games this weekend will be played at home where the Longhorns have a 14-game win streak.

Barnes said that statistic doesn’t affect the team.

“They [the players] know that we tend to do well at home but I bet you they have no idea that it’s a 14-game win streak at home. I don’t think it’s weighing on their minds at all,” Barnes said.

She did say that being at home will make a difference in the team’s play.

“We love playing for our fans and we really like playing at home,” said sophomore midfielder Kristin Cummins. “We play A&M next weekend for senior night, so that will be a very big game for us, too.”

Junior Lucy Keith said the games this weekend will help them get points and good standings in the Big 12, but she understands how difficult the games will be.

“It is always a mistake to get too comfortable. We are feeling confident in ourselves and the way we play,” Keith said. “But it’s going to be a great game Friday and we have to just be really focused and ready to play with intensity.”

She said part of the team’s growth is focusing on one game at a time.

Confidence is important for this team, especially for two-time Big 12 defensive player of the week, goalkeeper Alexa Gaul.

“Confidence is a big part of it,” Barnes said. “If she gets one shutout, that helps and leads to another one.”

Barnes said that the team is focusing on controlling play and maintaining possession.

“We are very focused this year and I think overall right now soccer is the number one priority,” Cummins said. “Last year we accepted being OK, and this year we are striving to be great.”