Texas still searching for consistency after tough start to Big 12 play

Trenton Daeschner

The Longhorns held a lead twice last weekend in their opening two matches of Big 12 play.  

But twice they gave it away.

One blown lead resulted in a 1-1 draw with Baylor. The other resulted in a 2-1 loss in extra time against Oklahoma. By Sunday evening, Texas (6–4–1, 0–1–1 Big 12) was left wondering how it squandered away its potential first two conference wins.

“[We’re] disappointed in the results,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “[We] know that we had opportunities in both matches to do better things and to put a team away. We’re going to continue to make sure that we organize for that success going forward.”

Texas can befuddle Longhorn fans in its ability to shine one moment and struggle the next. The Longhorns have scored 21 goals this season and have only given up 10. Even so, the Longhorns have six wins through 11 matches. 

“We’ve shown that we can play good soccer,” senior goalkeeper Paige Brown said. “It’s just can we do it consistently.”

Texas players and coaches willingly admit the team has struggled to put together complete matches. This was evident three weeks ago on the road against Ohio State when Texas failed to protect its early 1-0 lead. The Longhorns walked away with a 2-1 loss.

But it’s still early in the conference schedule, and Texas is nowhere close to hitting the panic button.

“The season’s long, and it’s filled with diversity,” senior defender Isabelle Kerr said. “It’s all learning steps. Now we know how to close out a game.”

Kelly remains confident as ever in her squad, too.

“I don’t think there’s concern at all,” Kelly said. “I think it’s just an understanding. I think we also need to put it in perspective with the caliber of opponent we’re playing.”

The Big 12 is no walk in the park by any stretch. Nine of the 10 teams have winning records so far in 2016. And the Longhorns know they have a tough road ahead and there is little room for error.

“There’s a ton of different styles in our conference, and there’s a tremendous amount of talent,” Kelly said. “You just have to be prepared. You have to play as close to 90 minutes on both sides of the ball as possible.”

Texas looks to finally start putting together the complete matches Texas players so often talk about at home this weekend. The Longhorns face Oklahoma State (5–5–2, 0–2 Big 12) on Friday at 7 p.m. and Kansas (6–3–2, 1–0 Big 12) on Sunday at 1 p.m.

“Playing a full 90 minutes is continuing to score and not just settling to defend the rest of the game,” Kerr said. “We’re definitely not there yet, but we’re making progress.”