Sports are all about opportunity, and midfielder Haley Berg is in a position to have some great ones. The junior was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 Conference Team in August.
After a couple of quiet games to open her junior year, Berg has looked more confident as of late. It has been particularly evident in the past two games, where she has netted three goals.
“I’ve just been working a lot on movement,” Berg said after Sunday night’s match against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi. “I don’t think it’s anything I’ve done. Just as a team collectively, we’ve come together and realized what we need to do better, and we’ve been doing it. It opens up spaces for not only me, but like Julia (Grosso), Kailey (Smith) — all different kinds of people.”
As the Longhorns look forward to a Friday evening showdown against the University of Washington, Texas will specifically try to shore up a defense that has been inconsistent at best throughout the season, head coach Angela Kelly said.
“For us, it’s always on the defensive side of the ball,” Kelly said. “Defensive mentality, how we work in transitions — that’s what we want to optimize.”
With the Huskies in town, the Longhorns have a chance to hone in on their back line. Washington has only scored five goals in their five matches. However, their attacking unit is more potent than the statistics suggest.
Washington has outshot their opponents by nearly five shots per match. Their aggressiveness on the front line has led them to be competitive in most of their games — although the win count has not matched. Earlier in the season, Washington lost 3-2 to then-No.2 ranked North Carolina in a match where they led for most of the game. Washington comes into the game on a two-game winning streak, with wins over New Mexico and Denver — who shut out Texas 3-0 two weeks ago.
With the weather currently projecting to be in the 90s, the Longhorns have an advantage over Washington in this area. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest, the Huskies most likely will have to adjust to the heat and humidity of Austin, something that is not an issue for Texas. Berg discussed the impacts heat causes.
“Honestly, I don’t think the heat affects us that much because we’ve been working in it for so long,” Berg said. “We’re here in the summer, we’re here in the spring, we’re here in the preseason working out twice a day in this heat, so the heat really isn’t an issue.”