Since Texas A&M left for the SEC in 2012, both Aggie and Longhorn fans alike have been clamoring for the day that the two teams could face each other once again on the field. That day ended up being Friday, just not in the manner most thought, taking place as part of the NCAA DI soccer tournament, where Texas’ season ended with a 4-1 defeat.
Friday’s match opened up rather optimistically for Texas, as forward Cydney Billups scored the game’s first goal in just the 7th minute. At the time, it may have seemed like a blessing for the Longhorns, but it was the start of a match trend that proved to be Texas’ downfall.
“Obviously, scoring early was great, but there was just a shift in play,” said Texas head coach Angela Kelly. “Our game is transitional where these shifts do take place.”
After that first goal, A&M stifled the Texas offense, specifically in the first half. After getting three shots off in the first seven minutes, the Longhorns were only able to muster three more for the rest of the half. That aforementioned “open game” swung the match in favor of the Aggies, who were able to attempt 27 shots during the contest to Texas’ 17.
“We just happened to turn the ball over, and they just took advantage of those opportunities. Credit to A&M — they took their chances obviously very well,” said Kelly. “It seemed like a match that could have been 10-8. It was back and forth, with loads of shots from both teams. I think we had chances that we wish we could get back.”
After A&M scored their fourth (and final) goal of the match off a Texas deflection in the 72nd minute, most teams would throw in the towel. If you watched any game of the Longhorns’ season, you know that this was not in their DNA. Rather than accepting defeat, Texas spent the last 20 minutes of the match frantically fighting, looking to, at the very least, make the final score closer, something that coach Kelly made sure to point out.
“I thought we battled. I appreciate the response from our squad, and they made a choice, hence doubling the shot production,” said Kelly. “You have choices: you either respond or you don’t. In our game, it just takes one goal. Even when it was 4-1, a chance at a second goal makes it much more interesting.”
After the loss, Kelly was understandably disappointed, not just for the end of her eighth season as Texas’ coach but also for the seniors whose collegiate careers ended on Friday.
“My thoughts are honestly with our seniors,” said Kelly. “This senior class is special, as they all are. Lots of people who have given everything they could have for this program.”
Texas ends the season with a record of 11–8–1. Wins against the likes of Washington, Kansas and Oklahoma provided highs, but a multitude of crunch time losses kept this team from reaching its peak. Losing eight seniors — including Cyera Hintzen, Atu Mshana, Emma Jett and Cydney Billups — hurts, but Texas will look to continue their recent success in pursuit of a fourth straight NCAA Tournament appearance in 2020.