Texas plays its best soccer in overtime

Dalton Phillips

When the clock hits zero at the end of regulation, Texas fans know they are in for something special. 

Six times this season, the No. 9 Longhorns have forced overtime. Four of those have come at home, the other two on the road. And Texas has emerged undefeated through all of them.

The team thrives in extra time. And they get there often. The most recent golden goal came on Sunday as freshman forward Haley Berg found the back of the net on the road against Kansas State. When asked about the play, Berg responded with the same composure she’s demonstrated all season on and off the field for Texas. 

“(Sophomore forward) Cyera (Hintzen) took her players away,” Berg said. “And I just decided to try the shot.”

That shot proved to be a 17-yard game winner, snapping the team’s three-game winless slide and placing Texas (12–1–2, 4–1–2 Big 12) in position to finish first in the Big 12 with two games remaining.

Six trips to extra time are no accident. Texas’ ball-dominant style forces overtimes when the team can’t convert on its looks. The Longhorns have attempted the second-most shots in the Big 12. But more importantly, they lead the conference in corner kicks with 54 such attempts. This is a squad that commands possession for a majority of its contests and gives its opponents few chances to respond. 

That’s the way Texas wants it. Once overtime starts, head coach Angela Kelly credits the team mentality in getting the job done — and the players have proven just how lethal that can be. The team has only allowed a single shot on goal in those six overtimes. 

As for the rest of the conference, only Iowa State has also forced extra minutes on six occasions. But the Cyclones have been just the opposite of Texas this season — winless in overtime contests.

Berg now sits at No. 3 in Big 12 game winners this season. Two spots above is Hintzen, who leads the conference with five.

Texas finished last in the conference a year ago. The difference this year has been the team’s ability to close out tight games, a skill that will prove crucial come postseason. 

“Regardless of the adversity, and regardless of whether it’s overtime, we’re going to give 100 percent of ourselves. Every minute,” Kelly said.