Texas is building a perennial NCAA tournament soccer program, but there’s still a wide gap between the Longhorns and the top team in the state.
Texas A&M beat Texas 4-1 on Friday night, as the Aggies and Longhorns renewed a dormant rivalry in the NCAA first round at a packed Ellis Field in College Station.
“We had chances out there that we wish we could get back,” Texas coach Angela Kelly said. “It was an open game, and I thought we just gave the ball back too quickly, too easily. That broke the momentum.”
Texas took an early 1-0 lead but couldn’t ward off a relentless A&M attack that piled up 27 total shots and forced Texas goalkeeper Savannah Madden to make nine saves.
The Longhorns started strong. After a string of possession, Cydney Billups gave Texas a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute, heading in a cross from Cameron Brooks. Julia Grosso also picked up an assist on the play.
The goal seemed to awaken the Aggies, who dominated the rest of the first half. Taylor Ziemer tied the score in the 24th minute on a deflected shot from outside the box that looped over Madden’s outstretched arms.
Madden made four saves before halftime, but despite her best efforts couldn’t keep A&M from taking the lead. Tera Ziemer matched her sister in the 44th minute when she finished off a cross from left back Jimena Lopez.
Grace Piper made it 3-1 after halftime with a long-range blast into the top corner, and an own goal in the 72nd minute effectively ended hope of a Longhorns comeback.
“To score early was great, and then there was just a shift,” Kelly said. “Our game is a transitional game where there are these shifts. We turned the ball over and they got back possession and took advantage of their opportunities.”
Texas and Texas A&M were playing for the first time since the Aggies left the Big 12 for the SEC before the 2012 season. Since then, A&M has made five Sweet 16 appearances, the Elite Eight twice and one Final Four. The Aggies have made the NCAA tournament every season since 1995 under coach G Guerrieri.
Kelly arrived at Texas in 2012, and has guided the program to four NCAA appearances — including the past three seasons. The Longhorns made the Sweet 16 in 2017.
Several key pieces from those teams played their final match on Friday, including forward Cyera Hintzen who leaves tied for fourth all-time with 27 career goals and 12 match winners.
Hintzen “has given everything to this program,” Kelly said. “She’ll go off an have a great pro career.”
Fellow starters Billups, Atu Mshana and Emma Jett were all playing their final game for the Longhorns. The rest, including first-team All-Big 12 midfielder Julia Grosso and second-team midfielder Haley Berg, should be back to chase a fourth-straight NCAA bid.