Texas soccer unloads on UTRGV, winning a 5-0 shutout

Evan Vieth, Sports Reporter

High pressure generated by the Longhorns’ offense and late scoring led to a dominating 5-0 victory over UT-Rio Grande Valley for the Texas soccer team on Sunday.

The Longhorns rode a hot streak coming into Sunday’s contest versus UTRGV, winning or tying in their last four games since their 0-2 loss against top-ranked North Carolina. 

Though the Longhorns were heavily favored at home, UTRGV was the first team to show aggression out of the gate. Within the first six minutes, the Vaqueros managed to secure three corner kicks and two shots on goal, one of which was blocked by their own player before it reached the goal.

Despite early pressure from the Vaqueros, Texas found the goal first. After a missed opportunity by fifth-year senior winger Mackenzie McFarland just three minutes earlier, the Longhorns were poised for another attack just outside the 18-yard box. Junior defender Lauren Lapomarda delivered a short pass to sophomore midfielder Jilly Shimkin, who proceeded to create a pocket of space and launched a rocket into the top right corner past the outstretched arms of freshman keeper Emma Lööv.

“I saw an open lane, (Lapomarda) played a great ball to me back and the shot just went in,” Shimkin said. “Just so happy to help the team and get on the board.” 

The goal marked Shimkin’s second as a Longhorn, and the first for the former Penn State Nittany Lion since the opening game of the season against Lipscomb. 

“It’s been an awesome transition,” Shimkin said. “(Assistant coaches Ben Munger and Lee Hughes) have just really believed in me this whole time, and I’m so grateful for this entire team.”

The match was at a standstill for most of the first half, with just one corner and six total shots between the teams for 22 minutes after Shimkin’s goal, until sophomore forward Trinity Byars broke free on the right side of the UTRGV defense.

The striker beat her defender and looked to have her fourth goal in just five games, but her bottom corner shot grazed the outside of the post and out a potentially big opportunity for the Longhorns that didn’t pan out. 

Texas kept the pressure up in the final 10 minutes of the half, with a cross from the right side of the box nearly resulting in a goal for freshman forward Liz Worden. The ensuing corner kick was won by the Longhorns, and senior striker Teni Akindoju launched a quick shot from the penalty spot that ricocheted just off of the post and away from danger.

With under a minute left, Worden sent another shot from outside the box, beating Lööv but hitting the crossbar. Though the Longhorns had 13 shots at the half and controlled 66% of possession, Texas clung to a slight one-goal lead.

In a weird sequence to begin the half, sophomore winger Holly Ward tossed a shot that again hit off the side-post, careening towards the goal before being scooped up by Lööv. Upon further replay review, Ward’s shot did in fact cross the line. However, play had already resumed, meaning the no-goal call stood and Texas remained only up one goal.

The Longhorns kept up, however, and were rewarded for their relentless pressure on the Vaqueros in the 63rd minute. Byars swung in a cross that fell to Missimo, who promptly delivered a shot into the bottom right corner, just past the UTRGV goalie. After several unfortunate shot attempts since the 10th minute, Texas was finally on the board again.

Texas dominated the rest of the half, barely letting UTRGV leave its side of the pitch. With just five minutes left in the game, senior forward Sydney Nobles saw her chance to secure her first goal of the season, refusing to squander the opportunity. Byars’ second assist of the night gave Texas a 3-0 lead.

The Longhorns weren’t done, either, as just a minute later Lexi Missimo’s corner kick fell to sophomore defender Emily Jane Cox, who was perfectly positioned to head the ball into the back of the net. Missimo then added another goal a minute later, her second goal of the game and the third in as many minutes for the Longhorns.

Though the Longhorns looked like they wanted to score even more, the final score ended at 5-0 in favor of the Longhorns. The late scoring and high offensive pressure were the dominant storylines of the game for the Longhorns, as the team continuously kept the UTRGV defense on its toes. All together, Texas sent out 27 shots – a season high – with nine on goal.

“It’s all about movement,” Shimkin said. “(Head coach Angela Kelly) talks about finding spaces as a team. I think that’s what we’ve been really trying to work on.”

Next up, the Longhorns will host Texas Southern on Thursday in Austin, with Big 12 play starting September 22 at TCU.

“We’re so excited,” Shimkin said. “I gotta just take it one game at a time but we want to start off strong.”