By Wesley Price
Last week’s Big-12 Soccer Championship quarterfinals wrapped up 2013 Big 12 conference play for the Longhorns. After losing in an upset to Oklahoma State 2-1 the Longhorns have finished the season 12-6-2 overall and 5-2-1 in the Big 12. Texas had earned a No. 3 seed heading into the tournament, but exited early. The 2013 regular season encapsulated the best performance for the Texas program in six years. Honored with a total of four weekly awards -- two defensive player of the week, and two newcomer of the week -- and recently selected for three All-Big 12 team members --Sharis Lachappelle first team, Brooke Gilbert second team, Abby Smith second team..
Texas goalkeeper Smith led the team’s season in number of honors.. Which included a defensive player of the week in week three and her selection to the All-Big 12 second team. Recognized for the second straight season, earning one of two All-Big 12 student-athlete awards for goalkeeper. Smith had third most shutouts (8) among conference goalkeepers, 72 total saves with an average of 3.6 saves per game, and a goal’s against average of .78 per game.
Prior to the tournament defeat, Smith made a career-high seven saves in back-to-back games over nationally ranked No. 12 Texas Tech and Stephen F. Austin. Giving her team necessary confidence and support in the goal moving into the post-season at Kansas City for the Big 12 Championships.
As a freshman, Smith led the conference in shutouts (4) and least goals against (8). Becoming a unanimous selection for the All-Big 12 newcomer and second team All-Big 12 in 2012. The Longhorns have relied on her performance this year.
Smith continued to fill the stat sheets over the course of pre-season and conference play. After several weeks among the NCAA top-25, the coaches have concurred, and have continued to recognize the UT goalkeeper on and off the field.
The Longhorns have suffered an early tournament loss but have re-claimed a position among the other top Big-12 soccer programs.
Smith made four saves in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to OSU, despite the dominant offensive play from the Longhorns who out shot the Cowgirls 19-13. Responding to the tournament performance, fellow sophomore team member Brinkley Field believes that the game will provide a valuable learning experience:
“Since all knowledge is cumulative, we will use all we learned this season to build upon for better play and more wins next season,” Field said. “And while our regular season and play in the Big 12 Soccer Championship is over, our season may yet still be alive.”
Following the 2013 Big-12 Championship 64 NCAA Division-1 women’s soccer teams will be chosen to play for the national title beginning. Selections will be made at 3:30 p.m. (CT) on Monday Nov. 11. Texas ranked No. 34 in the most recent NCAA Soccer RPI, and could likely host a first round match of the NCAA tournament starting on Nov. 15th or 17th at Mike A. Meyer’s stadium.