After starting conference play as the lone 3–0 team in the Big 12, Texas lost to West Virginia 2-1 on Sunday in a match that forced two overtimes.
“That one hurts. I was really proud of the squad for fighting back,” head coach Angela Kelly said. “Any time you have an overtime loss it’s tough.”
The Longhorns played from behind all game, a place they haven’t been since conference play began. West Virginia scored the first goal of the game a little over 3 minutes into the second half, forcing Texas to come up with a response. The Longhorns did just that in the 77th minute when Cydney Billups scored off of a 6-yard header to tie the game.
“West Virginia, credit to them, they scored, and we had to have a response. I think our response was great,” Kelly said.
The match’s next goal wasn’t scored for another 27 minutes when freshman midfielder Addison Clark won the game for West Virginia in double overtime with an 18-yard goal.
Mirroring situations in some of its earlier season losses, Texas was unable to convert on offense when it had the opportunity to do so, putting pressure on their defense to pick up the slack.
“It wasn’t for a lack of creating chances. We had a lot of chances, and we just have to put those away, quite obviously, and these overtime situations don’t happen,” Kelly said.
West Virginia’s victory was sparked by the run it made to start the second period. After a somewhat even first half of play, the Mountaineers came out in the second half far more aggressive, pushing the pace while Texas’ defense sat back. Texas registered just seven shots in the second half to West Virginia’s 12.
“I think they saw that we were down on their end for a lot of the game and wanted to just play it forward and get as many chances as possible,” junior forward Haley Berg said. “I think our defense did a really good job of handling that. No matter what happens we have to adjust, no matter how they’re playing. We’re pretty used to teams playing direct, that’s not how we play but we know how to handle it.”
For the most part, the Texas defense was successful in handling the direct attack of West Virginia, despite giving up two goals. West Virginia registered 26 total shots, 10 of which were on goal, but Texas redshirt junior goalkeeper Nicole Curry brought in eight saves. Still sitting in first place, Texas is looking to return to the win column in Friday’s contest against Oklahoma State.
“Our biggest focus is making sure we stay together as a team, and we don’t start pointing fingers,” Berg said. “A lot of teams do that in the middle of the season. I think we faced a lot of trial and triumph in the preseason, and I think we know how to handle it.”