Texas sends statement in first round win

Dalton Phillips

The Longhorns punched their ticket to North Carolina on Friday in style.

Sophomore forward Cyera Hintzen scored two goals and freshman forward Haley Berg added one of her own as the team’s top goal-scoring duo led Texas past the Mean Green 3-0 at home in the first round of the NCAA tournament.

“I’m really pleased with the result,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “I thought we did some great things. We were able to give some of our young players more minutes than we were able to in the regular season. We’re just really excited to be in the NCAA tournament.”

Keen on avoiding another early upset, the Longhorns played with a sense of urgency from the opening kick. Just 20 minutes into the contest, Berg split two North Texas defenders and crossed the ball to a waiting Hintzen. The forward quickly lined up a shot and blasted it home from 14 yards to give Texas the lead.

Moments later, Berg made it a two-score game with a clean one-on-one move and finish past Mean Green goalkeeper Brooke Bradley.

After narrowly escaping with a win on the road in the two program’s first meeting this season in August, Texas looked like the far more polished team on Friday night.

“I think we just settled down and played more composed,” Hintzen said. “We realized when we can string passes together we can get into the box. We took that into consideration and applied it more out on the field.”

The rest of the match following the opening two goals was all Texas. The team set the tempo on both ends, outshooting their opponents 15-8 and allowing only three shots on goal. Sophomore goalie Nicole Curry recorded a program-best eleventh shutout with her three saves.

Coming out of the break, the Longhorns put the final nail in the coffin as Hintzen notched her ninth goal of the season. A deep pass from midfield bounced through several North Texas defenders before landing at her feet seven yards from the goal. A quick tap is all it took to make it 3-0.

Texas now prepares for a trip to Durham for a second-round matchup with Clemson. After several disappointing losses, including to Baylor in the first round of the Big 12 Championship, the team appears to have righted the ship.

“We came together as a team at the start of this new season,” Berg said. “We took mistakes from this season and fixed those. Obviously, we have more stuff to work on, but I think we came together and we’re excited to move on to the next round.”