With her blazing speed and powerful right foot, you’d have a hard time convincing anyone who saw Cameron Brooks score the winning goal in a 1-0 over Baylor on Friday night that she was anything other than a forward.
Until about a year ago, she said, she never played the position.
“I was originally a left back and center back,” she said.
That’s not to say Brooks didn’t know how to find the back of the net. She was a star midfielder at nearby Cedar Ridge, with 27 goals and 19 assists and came to Texas ready to compete for minutes at outside back, where she played at club level for Lonestar Soccer Club.
She’s a fast learner, something she made clear with an expertly timed run and deft finish in one of her first involvements of the match against Baylor. Brooks’ chance arrived just seconds after the Bears missed a penalty kick at the other end.
“I felt like we kind of needed a spark of energy,” she said. “That might have been my first or second touch on the ball. Whenever I got it, I just wanted to make the most out of it.”
Longhorns goalkeeper Savannah Madden took credit for throwing Maddie Algya off, causing her to miss the early penalty. Madden then caught the Bears napping on the ensuing goal kick, sending a long ball up the middle that Carlee Allen flicked through to Presley Echols, who spotted Brooks running behind the defense.
“I thought that was really good execution,” said Madden, whose day was just getting started.
On her senior night, the Longhorns goalkeeper faced 23 shots from Baylor and made 10 saves to earn her fourth clean sheet of the season — all of which resulted in victories.
Those stops included a diving save against Taylor Moon to keep Texas in front after it dominated most of the first half. Things got a little more dicey in the second half, as the Longhorns dropped deeper to protect their lead. Madden stood taller than her 5-foot-7 frame.
“Every goalkeeper is going to have that moment where you’re just kind of like, ‘Oh crap,’ ” she said. “I just did everything I could to keep them out.”
It was the last of four home matches for Texas this fall, in front of a socially distanced crowd and the heartbeat of music from La Murga de Austin, as well as supporters groups for both local men’s professional teams Austin FC and Austin Bold.
— Chris Bils (@ChrisBils) October 31, 2020
The Longhorns are now 4-4 with the fall finale coming next Friday at Texas Tech, but they are less than halfway through the total number of matches they could play in a strange, COVID-19 affected calendar.
Since the NCAA women’s soccer tournament was moved to the spring, and because the Big 12 was one of only a handful of conferences to play this fall, Texas coach Angela Kelly expressed on Friday her desire to play the allotted 20 games.
“That gives us 11 more in the spring,” she said. “We’re excited about that. There’s a national championship on May 17, that’s what I do know. We start school Jan. 26, the players will be coming back. We’re going to know how many practice opportunities we have, we’re going to be able to start scheduling.”
That also means that for the majority of the seniors who were celebrated on Friday, senior night was far from a farewell.
“When the opportunity arose that we were possibly having a spring season, I was probably one of the first people to jump and be like, ‘Yeah, for sure I’d stay,’” Madden said.