The Longhorns have a sour taste in their mouth.
Last season the team finished 8-6-4 and failed to make the NCAA tournament after getting there in 2014 — Texas has only made the tournament once since 2012. And it lost 10 seniors this offseason, including star goalkeeper in Abby Smith.
Still, fifth-year head coach Angela Kelly believes the program is on the right track and has high hopes for the future.
“I think it's a stage where we've been building a foundation from a recruiting and philosophical perspective,” Kelly said. “The foundation for a championship program is something that's not implemented overnight. I'm really proud of what the past four years has brought to this program.”
Texas still feels burned by last season’s premature ending. The Longhorns finished third in the Big 12 regular season standings, but were knocked out of the conference quarterfinals by Kansas.
“I think we didn't finish last season the way that we wanted to and so that kind of gives us a chip on our shoulder,” senior midfielder Julia Dyche said. “We have that feeling and we want to push to be better than we were last year and just play the best that Texas can play every game.”
Eleven newcomers, including eight freshmen and three transfers, will provide valuable depth this season. Texas’ recruiting class was ranked No. 1 in the Big 12 and No. 15 in the nation, according to Top Drawer Soccer.
However, the losses of Smith, forward Kelsey Shimmick and midfielder Lindsey Meyer are hard to ignore. Shimmick and Meyer were two of Texas’ top goal scorers last year, each scoring three times. Smith recorded 96 saves last season and broke Texas’ career shutout record, finishing with 30 total.
This year, the Longhorns will rely on the sophomore forward duo of Alexa Adams and Mikayla Flores. Adams led the team in goals last season with six, while Flores posted three of her own. The duo also co-led the team with four assists.
Texas begins its season at home Friday against Seattle University. And the team hopes to sweeten the sour taste from last season early on 2016.
“I think we've been working really hard and we're just ready to get after it,” Dyche said. “Seattle is a good team so we're really excited to have our home opener against a quality team. We're looking forward to it.”