Pedersen leads defense

Anthony Mannino

After an up-and-down weekend last week tying top-ranked Oklahoma State and losing to Texas Tech, the Longhorns soccer team rallied on Sunday with a win. Texas (10-6-1) scored the game’s only goal off of a Kylie Doniak corner kick to beat Seattle University (10-5). A big part of the success for the Longhorns was the versatility of Nina Frausing Pedersen. She played every position except goalie for Texas at Mike A. Myers Stadium on Sunday.

“That’s just the type of player she is, so strong and smart,” Doniak said. “To be able to use her in every position is an advantage for us. That’s hard for other teams to mark and scout on her.”

To start the game, Frausing Pedersen played up top trying to use her height and strength to her advantage. If properly used as a target forward, the Danish-born player can make it easy for smaller forwards such as Vanessa Ibewuike and Hannah Higgins to run in behind the defense. This should open up the defense and allow the Longhorns to be more offensive.

“Well, this week we were practicing me as a target forward. Just because the forwards we have are best out wide,” Frausing Pedersen said. “They can lay it off to me, and I can keep the ball and play it to them.”

The change from centerback to striker will take time for Frausing Pedersen to adjust to, but she has the skill set to excel up top. Frausing Pedersen’s excellent touch and vision should help make the switch go by smoothly. However, at the end of the game, Coach Chris Petrucelli moved the Dane back to defense to make sure Texas was able to hold onto its one-goal lead.

“I thought she did well up front certainly,” Petrucelli said. “When we got ahead, we moved her back there as well, so she has the ability to play a number of different spots, and she is good at all of them.”

Frausing Pedersen said after the game that she still prefers to play as a centerback, but maybe after some time as a striker, she might enjoy her new position. Which is understandable since Frausing Pedersen has never played as a lone forward, and she still needs to learn how to make the proper runs as a striker. The good news for Texas is having a player that is this skilled and can play numerous positions is not a bad problem for a team that is struggling.