Women’s soccer heads west for Trojan Invitational

Anthony Mannino

The Longhorns will try to continue their winning ways as they head west to play in the Trojan Invitational in Los Angeles, Calif. Texas enters the tournament with a five-game winning streak, which has been fueled by great defensive efforts from the Longhorns’ back line.

The leader at the back is the lady between the posts, keeper Alexa Gaul, who has started off the season with four shutouts in the first six matches. However, Gaul’s skill set is not limited to saving shots; she also has the ability to use her feet to set up chances for the Texas offense.

Last week in the game against UTSA, Gaul made an assist that helped set up the Longhorns’ second goal of the game.

”Most people try to kick it out, but Alexa tried to find a pass and [junior forward Hannah Higgins] worked hard to get it,” said junior forward Vanessa Ibewuike. “And I would hope that my goal assisted both of them. I hope they both get credited the assist on that one. It was a great job by both of them.”

Gaul’s kicking ability gives Texas an extra-woman advantage from goal kicks. Most team’s keepers are unable to kick off a restart like a goal kick. For Gaul, this is not a problem: The junior can kick the ball 60 yards downfield. This means Texas does not have to use a defender to kick the ball, and instead the defender can help win the ball for Texas. Having an extra woman helping to win the ball can make all the difference, especially in the procession style attack of Texas.

“One of our mottos for this year is to play fast and get the ball, so that’s what I’m trying to do,” Gaul said. “Just looking quick and being ready.” In the Trojan Invitational, the Longhorns should face some stiffer competition. The San Diego Toreros average two goals per game and also give up less than a goal per game. If Texas wants to increase its winning streak to six, the defense will have to slow down the Toreros’ offense. Senior forward Stephanie Ochs is the main threat going forward from San Diego. The senior has already tallied four goals this season.

The Longhorns will face Southern California in the second game of the tournament. Like Texas, the Trojans were off to a slow start at the beginning of the year but are heading into the tournament with a three-game winning streak of their own.

It is offense-by-committee for USC, with seven different players having already scored for the Trojans this year. Defensively, they are less than impressive. Texas should be able to find the back of the Trojans’ net; USC averages more than a goal-and-a-half per game.

Back-to-back wins for Texas should mean that the Longhorns will be ranked in the top 25 for the first time all season.

Printed on September 9, 2011 as: Texas will face Toreros, Trojans in California