Your Longhorn soccer reporter was out of town for four days this past weekend on an outside assignment visiting the "mecca" of collegiate women’s soccer, Chapel Hill, North Carolina. I attended a Clash of the Titans on Friday in NC when #1 Notre Dame faced #3 UNC at Fetzer Field. There were 5,236 in attendance that night for the game. In comparison, the total combined attendance of the six other ACC women’s soccer games the same night was 4,847. Also factor in that a certain Hurricane Irene was bearing down on the coast of Carolina, and the attendance figure is just astonishing.
For you baseball fans out there, Nomar Garciaparra was in attendance rooting for his adopted Tar Heels, minus wife Mia Hamm who elected to stay home with the kids.
The game was a hard fought battle between the Irish and the Tar Heels, which included a pummeling rain that poured down for about twenty minutes in the second half. Regulation ended in a 1-1 tie, but at 5:25 into the first overtime, Courtney Jones smashed in the game winner, securing the victory for the Tar Heels.
It is this reporter’s opinion that the Longhorns, as strong as they are this year, have a good chance to make it to the Round of 16 of the NCAA Tournament in November. While at the game in Chapel Hill I tried to imagine what it would look like for the Horns to face UNC anywhere in the tournament. UNC is in great form this year, but I think the Horns have the best team they've had in a long time. For now it’s just one game at a time and we’ll see what happens.
I must confess that I was in quite a bit of awe during my entire visit to Chapel Hill, but never more so as when I gazed out across Fetzer Field at this sign in the far corner...
That's 21 National Championships (20 of which are NCAA championships).
- 1982 was the first year that the NCAA recognized collegiate women's soccer (largely as a result of what was going on at UNC).
And if you don't follow collegiate women's soccer, let me hit you with this... ALL of the National Championships on that board were under one coach, the current coach, Anson Dorrance.
I got to meet Anson and interview him and I still have goosebumps three days later. His parting words to me were, "We'll see you at the next adventure."
Why am I posting all of this here? I guess one simple reason. Chapel Hill, North Carolina is not some place where God came down from Heaven and said "Here is where all of the National Championships are going to be for collegiate women's soccer." I'm sorry, but that just didn't happen. Winning 21 National Championships was not an act of God. It was an act of a group of very dedicated people. A group of highly committed people. And if we've learned anything in this world, I think, it's that we can learn from winners anywhere in the world and model what they're doing in our own cities and towns and win too. But it takes getting serious.
The goal of the Texas program is not to win a National Championship, it's to win the Big 12 Championship. Someday I hope that mindset changes. Someday I hope Texas raises the bar and gets serious about winning, serious in the same way that UNC is serious about winning. Imagine what is accomplished at a program where not winning a national championship is considered a failure. Imagine that. Imagine what a team and a school with that kind of commitment would accomplish over a multi-year period. ... Well, you don't have to imagine it. It's going on right now and we can learn from it.
Local note: Austin's own Satara Murray plays for the Tar Heels and is starting as a freshman.
To bring you up to speed on the Horns’ performance this past weekend…
On Friday, they traveled to Athens, GA to face the Bulldogs. I can’t provide a full game summary for that one, but just to summarize, they took down the Bulldogs 3-0. This was a great win for Texas on the road and Taylor Knaack got her first goal as Longhorn. Goals also came from Gabby Zarnegar (one of our forward subs) and Kylie Doniak (one of our three starting forwards and top goal scorer last year).
On Sunday night, the Longhorns faced Cal State Northridge at home in Austin, where they again put on a dominating performance. The Longhorns netted a total of five goals in an offensive explosion, with two goals by Kylie Doniak and one each by Taylor Knaack, Lucy Keith, and Lexi Harris.
At the 11th minute in the first half, Kylie Doniak was locked in a fierce battle with a couple of Matador defenders at the side of the field in the Northridge end. After holding off the Northridge players, Doniak turned and crossed the ball into the goal area, finding Taylor Knaack who one-timed it into the back of the net for the first goal of the night.
Asked about her goal later, Knaack said, "Yeah, Kylie played a great ball to me. She worked really hard to make that goal happen. It was a great battle, and I was just right there to make the finish."
Freshman Allison Smith took the majority of the Longhorn corner kicks on the night. In the 34th minute she served in a beauty which Lucy Keith tracked down on the far side of the goal area and headed on goal for the Horns’ second score of the evening.
At the half, the score was 2-0 in favor of Texas. The Longhorns had 6 shots in the half with 3 on goal and two of those being scores. The one save for Northridge was on the first shot taken by Kylie Doniak at fifteen minutes into the game. Northridge themselves had a total of one shot in the first half, but it wasn't on goal.
Corner kicks at the half were 4 for Texas and 2 for Northridge. The first corner kick was taken by Kylie Doniak, with the next three taken by Allison Smith (after checking into the game in the 27th minute). It was Allison’s second corner kick which resulted in the headed goal by Lucy Keith.
The Second Half
Kylie Doniak scored just a minute and thirty seconds into the second half on a shot from 25 yards out. Doniak took a touch or two on the ball with defenders closing before blasting a shot top shelf and on goal just under the crossbar. Hannah Higgins got the assist.
When asked after the game about her goal from outside the box, Doniak said, "Well, I’ve just wanted to shoot the ball. It sounds crazy, but I’ve been waiting for that opportunity. When I saw the chance I took it, and it went my way."
Just fifteen seconds later, Northridge got on the board with a goal of their own. Melissa Fernandez scored for the Matadors with assists from Stephanie Norton and Heidi Farran.
Two minutes after the Matador goal, Kylie Doniak scored again, this time heading the ball into goal from fifteen yards out on a serve in by Taylor Knaack. It was Kylie’s fourth goal of the season.
In the 63rd minute, Lexi Harris scored for Texas on a strike into the right side of the Matador goal. Assists came from Vanessa Ibewuike and Gabby Zarnegar.
The game ended with the score 5-1 in favor of Texas. A big win for the Horns who put on a high octane scoring performance.
When asked about her two goals of the game, Kylie Doniak handed the credit to her teammates. "I did have a good game, but it was my teammates that got me the ball. I was just happy to be in the right position to make a play. It felt good for us to be able to capitalize on the hard work."