After a summer of uncertainty, sports are finally back in Austin.
The Texas women’s soccer team kicked off the Longhorns’ fall sports season Friday against defending Big 12 champion Kansas. Despite the Longhorns’ energized first half, a late goal capped off a 1-0 victory for the Jayhawks.
It was clear that Texas was out to make a statement early. Junior midfielder Julia Grosso led the way for a dominating first half performance by the Longhorns, who held a 4-3 shot advantage over Kansas and had the upper hand in time of possession, controlling the ball 56% of the time.
Head coach Angela Kelly attributed the spurt of energy and aggressive showing in the first half to the team’s eagerness to take the field.
“We just hadn’t played a game in 10 months,” Kelly said. “We were excited.”
Grosso, who was named to the preseason All-Big 12 Conference Team, was the aggressor for Texas and was responsible for two of Texas’ four shots. She got a great look early, but failed to convert on what would’ve given Texas a 1-0 lead.
Leading in almost every statistical category, the Longhorns seemed destined to make a run in the second half. However, Kelly felt the team certainly could’ve been better.
“We have to be more productive attacking in the second half,” Kelly said.
Both teams entered the second half with the momentum from the first. However, it was Kansas that first took charge on the field. The Jayhawks made more shots in the first 15 minutes of the second half than they had in the entirety of the first.
The Longhorns answered the challenge, as they quickly pushed upfield and garnered two quick shot attempts within a matter of minutes.
Still tied up at zero apiece with 25 minutes left in regulation, both teams were looking for a breath of life as the game was shaping up to be a night of no scoring. However, things quickly changed.
In minute 81of the match, senior midfielder Ceri Holland notched in the game-clinching score for Kansas.
Holland, who underwent concussion protocol in the first half after sustaining a brutal ball to the face, displayed resiliency by coming in huge for a Kansas team that struggled all night.
As exciting as the match was, it was the events leading up to the game that highlighted the night. In light of a time where racial inequalities and police brutality are addressed worldwide, the Longhorns showed solidarity with the movement.
In a Twitter post hours before the game, the team posed in t-shirts imprinted with “Black Lives Matter,” captioned “WeAreOne.”
As disappointing as the loss is for Texas, they look to bounce back next week against TCU.
Heading into Fort Worth, Kelly said the Longhorns have great energy, but need to be more confident on the field.
“Finishing. Taking more risks,” Kelly said. “The effort was there. We need to be more lethal in attacking.”