Aug. 19, 2009
LUBBOCK, Texas -
Texas Tech looks to kickoff its 2009 campaign on the right step as Red Raiders host UTSA at 7 p.m. Friday in the regular season opener at the John Walker Soccer Complex.
All tickets to Friday's match will be $1. Guns Up Club members will be admitted free with their official t-shirt of membership card. The Red Raiders will host an autograph session following the match.
TECH IN SEASON OPENERS
Tech is 7-8 all-time in season openers and 5-3 in openers at home. Tech last loss at home to start the season was in 2001 against TCU.
Tech is a perfect 3-0 against the Roadrunners. The two schools last met in Lubbock in 2007 where Tech won, 4-1.
A LOOK AT TECH
The Red Raiders return eight starters off the 2008 squad that finished 8-10-1 and eighth in the Big 12. Eight seniors return for their final season, the most during Tom Stone's tenure, while nine true freshmen begin their first semester on campus. Stone is in his third year at Tech, compiling a 15-18-3 record.
The Roadrunners return nine letterwinners, all starters, from its 2008 squad that finished 10-10-1 overall and second in the Southland Conference. UTSA was picked to finished third in the Southland Conference preseason poll, while senior defender Ezinne Okpo was selected to the conference's preseason first team. Steve Ballard is in fifth season at UTSA, compiling a 27-28-5 record.
LYTLE ALREADY AMONG TECH GREATS
Not many players can boast they are already on any of the school's career milestone lists - except for sophomore Taylor Lytle. After eight assists in 2008, which was the third-highest total for a single season in school history, Lytle ranks in a tie for seventh on Tech's career assist chart. With 11 more points, Lytle will join the top 10 for most points over a career. The Las Cruces, N.M. netted five goals in 2008 on her way to earning All-Big 12 second and newcomer team honors as well as freshman accolades from various soccer publications.
After spending all of the 2008 season in a temporary building, Tech moved in to the luxurious soccer house at the start of fall camp. The 10,500 square-feet facility is complete with athletic training rooms, coaches' offices, a players' lounge, locker rooms for both Tech and visitors and the Red Raider Lounge, making the John Walker Soccer Complex one of the nicest soccer venues in the nation.
For the first time in Tom Stone's tenure, the third-year head coach is looking for a new goalkeeper to replace departed senior Tina Rincon, who set the school record for most shutouts in a career and was also among the top-three in several other defensive categories. Junior Colleen Pitts and freshman Erin Wikelius are the two in line to fill her shoes. Pitts redshirted the 2008 season after playing in only one match in 2007 and only seven in 2006. Wikelius, a 5'11 Austin, Texas, native, arrives in Lubbock after a successful youth career with the Austin Lonestars.
TOUGH ON THE ROAD
Tech will be fully tested on the road prior to the conference opener Sept. 25 at home against Iowa State. Following this weekend's match against UTSA, the Red Raiders are on the road for three-consecutive weekends before returning home for the Red Raider Classic Sept. 18. Eleven of Tech's 19 matches this season are on the road.
RED RAIDER CLASSIC
Tech will host the Red Raider Classic, Sept. 18-20, at the John Walker Soccer Complex as Alabama, TCU and Weber State will all travel to Lubbock for the three-day event. The Red Raiders will face Alabama in its Friday night match and Weber State on Sunday. Tech will not face TCU at all during the weekend.
KEETON JOINS SOCCER STAFF
The UTSA match will be the first for new volunteer assistant coach Gibbs Keeton on the Tech sideline. The Texas Tech graduate spent all of 2008 as the program's official scorer and also worked as an observer. He replaces Kelly Schmedes who left to play in the Woman's Professional Soccer League last spring.
TECH TO REMAIN YOUNG
Despite seven seniors on its roster, Tech will still favor a youth movement as nine true freshmen begin their first season Friday night. The class is the first to be recruited for a full year following Tom Stone's hire in May 2007. Only 12 of Tech's 28 players are classified as a junior or senior.
Dawn Ward will get her first taste of collegiate soccer this weekend as the redshirt freshman sat out the 2008 season following a knee injury sustained in high school. Ward participated in spring drills with the Red Raiders and played in several exhibition matches.
SPRING PAYS OFF FOR WILLIAMS, YOUNG
Out of Tech's nine true freshmen, two (Conner Williams and Jordyn Young) enrolled last January and participated in spring drills and exhibition matches, giving the two some collegiate experience as Tech faced top teams such as Oklahoma State, SMU and Houston.
Quickly after enrolling at Tech last January, Conner Williams had already developed an interesting nickname - Terminator. Williams drew the attention of head coach Tom Stone and teammates after it was discovered her actual name was Sara, making her Sara "Conner" Williams, similar to the famous character from the Terminator movies.
RED RAIDERS PICKED EIGHTH IN BIG 12
Texas Tech will start the season picked to advance to the Big 12 Championship for the third-consecutive season. The Red Raiders were picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 preseason poll, the same spot where Tech finished the 2008 season.
CLOPTON OUT FOR SEASON
Senior Sarabeth Clopton will miss the entire 2009 season due to the effects of numerous knee surgeries. The Garland, Texas, native will remain with the team throughout the season. Clopton had started 37-consecutive matches entering the season.
CHRISTENSEN TO ALSO MISS SEASON
For the third-consecutive season, Texas Tech will be without one of its freshmen signees as Leah Christensen will miss the entire season due to a knee injury suffered during her senior year of high school. Christensen joins Taylor Lytle and Dawn Ward as other Red Raiders to redshirt their first season on campus following injury.