Thursday, December 6, 2007

Texas Soccer Celebrates its Sweet 16... Again.

A terrific season filled with important accomplishments ended predictably for Texas Women's Soccer on November 23rd. With a 16-4-5 record and an impressive 9-0-2 home record, Longhorn fans should be happy to know that officially, this year was a success. Not seen as a soccer powerhouse in the pre-Petrucelli era, Texas can now claim national semi-elite, if not elite, status. By advancing to the third round of the NCAA tournament in 3 of the past 4 years and garnering two consecutive Big XII crowns, Texas soccer is in a position to competitively recruit nationally recognized players (and hopefully turn that success into W's on the field).

Texas Soccer is on the right track, it's just not there yet. For some reason, the Longhorns suffer from Sweet 16 anxiety much like parents do when buying their daughters that first car. We tense up and play awful soccer. The teams are going to be better at that level, the competition fiercer, but we seem to always come out flat in the Sweet 16 (pun intended). Very flat. Take nothing away from Florida St. who out shot the Longhorns 29-5 in the game on the way to an easy 4-0 win in Tallahassee. In the words of Texas star defender Kasey Moore, "they were amazing." We, on the other hand, were not.

I guess the curse of being from the University of Texas is that we all expect more. We expect perfection from our student athletes and are disappointed when those expectations are not met. In all honesty, Chris Petrucelli has built an outstanding program that is able to compete with the likes of UCLA (W 2-1), LSU (T 2-2 2OT), and Texas A&M (2 huge late-season and tournament wins in back-to-back weeks, including UT Soccer's first win against them at Aggie Soccer Complex in College Station). It is encouraging to hear Coach Petrucelli say that "the goal of the program is to win the whole thing," and Texas fans have every reason to be optimistic.

What to look for in the off season:
  • A top tier recruiting class (potentially top 5)
  • Several players playing with the Junior National Team (Kasey Moore, Stephanie Logterman and potentially others)
  • A light Spring season that will give the young Longhorns a chance to prove their worth

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