(image via TexasSports.com)
By Steve Lansdale
One of the rarest plays in soccer — a goal scored by a goalkeeper — proved to be the deciding score as the University of Texas women’s soccer team kicked off its 2015 season with a 1-0 victory over Miami (Fla.) in Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Senior Abby Smith, a preseason All-Big 12 honoree and a member of Top Drawer Soccer’s preseason “Best XI” team, scored her third career goal in the 61st minute when she cranked a punt nearly the length of the field, bouncing it between two Hurricane defenders and over Miami goalkeeper Phallon Tullis-Joyce for the game’s lone goal. (Continue reading below...)
(...Continued from above.) “When I got the ball in my hands, I saw that everyone was tired, so I wanted to give them a little break,” Smith said. “I just held the ball in my hands for a half-second, watched everyone head upfield, and then hit it long. The wind was at my back, and the keeper was high. (Freshman forward) Alexa (Adams) pressed on and the ball landed behind the defender. The keeper started backpedaling, but then she realized it was over her head. The ball started rolling in with Alexa pressing on just to make sure it went in goal, and it did.”
Texas dominated the stat sheet, outshooting the ’Canes, 8-2, in the first half and 19-6 over the course of the entire game. In corner kicks — a statistic that often is a fairly accurate indication of how much time the ball spent in each end of the field, the Longhorns more than doubled their opposition, enjoying a 7-3 advantage.
“For the opening match, we’re excited as always to come out with a ‘W,’” Texas head coach Angela Kelly said. “There are still a ton of things that we need to work on. As our schedule would have it, we’re going to be really battle-tested over the next week-and-a-half, but that’s exactly the way we planned it. Miami was a great opponent today. There were hot conditions, and I thought both teams battled. We just created some opportunities and feel fortunate that we were able to put it in the back of the net.”
Kelly acknowledged that it’s rare for goalkeepers to score, but said that Smith has a knack for the unusual.
“It seems a little fluky (Smith’s goal), but for Abby Smith, it’s not. Last season, in our opener in Hawai’i, she scored off a free kick against Arizona State. A lot of the credit (for Sunday’s goal) has to go to Alexa Adams for chasing that ball down. Abby obviously has the ability to put the ball in dangerous situations at any moment. That goal resulted from good organization and mentality from our frontrunners to put pressure on their backline, and then Abby’s ability to strike a ball. I’m very pleased for her in her senior year to have the first goal of the season.”
Junior midfielder Julia Dyche led the UT attack with four shots. Senior defender Emelie Campbell and freshman forward Jasmine Hart fired three shots apiece.
The Longhorns will host their first game of the season at 4:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 28 against Abilene Christian.