Longhorns open Big 12 play with statement 2-0 victory against Kansas State

Vicente Montalvo, Sports Reporter

Texas women’s soccer opened conference play on the road in Manhattan, Kansas, defeating Kansas State 2-0 in a game the Longhorns controlled from start to finish.

Texas got on the board early near the 27 minute mark when senior midfielder Julia Grosso gained possession of the ball near midfield. Instead of trying to race past Wildcat defenders, Grosso looked up to find freshman forward Trinity Byars racing down the right side of the field.

Grosso played a weighted through ball that let Byars not break her stride, meeting the perfectly placed ball. Byars took two dribbles, causing the keeper to come out toward her as she buried a shot at the back right post that deflected into the net as Texas took the early lead 1-0.

“(Byars) is a quality player and we all know it,” head coach Angela Kelly told ESPN. “That was a fantastic finish.”

As the half was winding down, Grosso had her own opportunity to add to the Longhorn lead. Receiving a ball near the top right-hand side of the box, Grosso dribbled her way past defenders showing her technical ability.

Moving the ball swiftly from one foot to another, Grosso sent a low ball past the keeper as her teammates surrounded her, celebrating her fourth goal of the season.

Throughout the contest, the Texas defense did a great job of limiting the space in the final third for Kansas State. During the first half, a Wildcat found space on the left side of the field, playing a ball into the box that was cleared by sophomore defender Lauren Lapomarda before any attacker could get to it.

Although the Longhorns didn’t end up scoring a goal during the second half, they came close as they continued to pressure the Kansas State defense.

Around minute 63, freshman midfielder Lexi Missimo played a ball into the box for senior forward Mackenzie McFarland. Looking for her first goal of the season, McFarland connected with the ball as it hit the net, but the goal ended up not counting, as the assistant referee raised the flag for offsides.

Senior goalkeeper Savannah Madden only needed to make one save throughout the game in minute 85, when Kansas State forward Caylee Thornhill sent a powerful shot toward goal. Madden kept her eyes on the ball as it came toward her, deflecting it over the top of the net for a corner kick and keeping the Wildcats scoreless.

This is Texas’ fourth shutout of the season and likely one of its most challenging ones due to how hard Kansas State was attacking in the dying minutes.

“I thought they had professionalism with how they closed out,” Kelly said. “It’s tough to keep a clean sheet in this league and we’re pleased with the away win.”

The Longhorns will look to keep their perfect conference record this Sunday in Norman in the Red River Rivalry. Kelly wants the team to stay focused and continue to understand that there are no gimmies in the Big 12.

“I think our players understand that there’s no team in the Big 12 that’s going to sit down,” Kelly said. “Everybody’s talented, everybody’s well organized (and) everybody’s so well coached.”