By: Brad Gray
Big 12 Campus Correspondent
Late in games where his team hasn’t scored, Texas women’s soccer coach Chris Petrucelli moves defender Kasey Moore up front in an act of desperation.
“If we’re losing with ten minutes left coach will throw me out there. But it was more of me running around and there wasn’t much structure,” Moore said. “He was like, ‘Just go, try to get a goal.’ There wasn’t much making good runs, it was just chasing the ball.”
Petrucelli was willing to try anything to boost an offense that has struggled to score goals. The experiment failed as Moore was scoreless in three games. It didn’t appear to work at first when Moore went scoreless for three games. Fortunately, Moore tallied a goal against both Missouri and Kansas in two of the Longhorns’ final three regular season games.
The senior now looks much more comfortable in the position as Texas looks ahead to a bid to the 2008 NCAA Championships.
“Playing up front is definitely new and it took me a while to get used to,” Moore said. “I was definitely frustrated at first. I was just glad I was able to contribute a little bit. I was like, ‘I better start contributing soon or this move is going to be for nothing.’ I was happy to come out with two wins.”
Petrucelli understood and anticipated Moore's frustration as she tried to adjust from mindset of being an aggressive, physical defender to the mentality required to succeed on offense.
“It’s a different mentality as well because there’s a lot more frustration to deal with,” Petrucelli said. “You’re going to lose the ball a lot, and you’re not going to score every time you touch it. Nine times out of ten you steal the ball in the back. There aren’t a lot of chances to score in the front.”
But Petrucelli saw something that made him believe the move would pay off. Most of the time it was after practice where, instead of running defense drills, Moore was always taking pot-shots at the goal after the field had emptied out.
“You always see her out there and she’s always shooting anytime she can in the front or in the back,” Petrucelli said. “Even when there’s down time, she’s still shooting. She always done that and it’s certainly one of the reasons why we looked at her for that.”
That and the fact that Moore has one of the strongest legs on the team, if not in the country, according to Petrucelli. Instead of clearing balls from the backfield, that leg has started to threaten goalkeepers.
It’s enough to worry Texas senior goalkeeper Dianna Pfenninger during practice. Even their freshman and sophomore years when the two were roommates, Pfenninger made sure not to let Moore get too confident - lest she take even more shots at the goal in practice.
“When she’s shooting, it’s like I always need to be ready if she shoots,” Pfenninger said. “There are some shots that are incredible and the only thing you can do is clap. I can’t even do that because she might just shoot harder and better.”
Moore always had the power to play forward, the only problem was technique.
“I struggled with the runs and what runs to make and where to check if the ball if someone is dribbling at you,” Moore said.
But that’s where she just reversed the thought process from her old position.
“Coach just told me to do the things that you hate that forwards do,” Moore said. “Just the little things that bug you so much as a defender, so I’ve started doing those things. It’s made me feel like a forward.”
Her favorite move as a forward?
“It’s just going out of their line of sight a little bit and just making it a little harder to defend me, even for a split second,” she said. “Making them take their eye off the ball for a short period of time can give you an opportunity.”