The best teams in the nation will continue their barrage on the women’s soccer team’s schedule this weekend when the No. 11 Kansas Jayhawks (13-1-0) take on Texas (7-4-2) on Friday at 7 p.m. at Mike A. Meyers Stadium.
Head coach Angela Kelly does not seem too concerned about the possibility of her team collapsing under the pressure of yet another ranked conference foe. Kelly, instead, gushed over her team’s performance against Iowa State and sounded like a head coach with postseason aspirations.
“We played some of the best soccer that I’ve seen Texas soccer play since I’ve been here on Friday evening,” Kelly said. “It tells me that they are earning everything that they’ve been given. That they’re recovering. That they are physically, mentally and emotionally mature, and that excites me for this program.”
The Jayhawks will try to test that maturity with a high-pressure defense that has smothered some of the best teams in the nation. Kansas cruises into Austin with a mere seven goals allowed through 14 games. Senior goalkeeper Kaitlyn Stroud has been the anchor of the Jayhawk defense, repelling a Big 12-best 90 percent of opponents’ shots on goal.
The Jayhawks’ elite back line should match up very well against a Longhorn squad that in recent weeks has struggled, especially in the first half, to light up the scoreboard.
“Obviously we need to work on some things, and I think we’ve taken care of that,” senior defender Whitney Jaynes said. “I think it’s good playing hard in the second half and knowing that we can come out hard in the first half too, so we’ll just keep working on that.”
The Longhorns have been able to secure a 2-2-1 record against ranked opponents this season, but, if they want to continue that success, they will have to threaten the opposing net for the entire 90 minutes.
“We want to be a 90-minute squad, and that’s from the opening whistle, and we want to maintain that kind of consistency throughout the course of a match,” Kelly said. “We’ve talked a lot to our players about that, and I think they’re up to the challenge.”
If the Longhorns can play the same high-energy tight press defense that shut out then No. 6 Texas Tech and held then No. 1 UCLA scoreless for 86 straight minutes, Kansas may have to wait a few more years to get its first win in Austin.