Red Raiders Set For Pair of Big 12 Home Matches|
Texas Tech will host Kansas on Friday night.
Oct. 13, 2011
by Britton Drown
In the span of just two days, it became evident that something has fundamentally changed within the Texas Tech soccer program. A few seasons ago, a loss resembling that of Friday night's 2-0 shutout by Texas A&M could have been devastating to the Red Raiders' season.
In front of a record crowd of 2,176 on a `blackout' night at the John Walker Soccer Complex, Texas Tech allowed two goals in the second half to the Aggies and walked away from the match with their second Big 12 loss of the season.
But less than 48 hours later, this Red Raider team found a way to recover, and quickly bounce right back. Sunday, Tech traveled to Fort Worth and defeated TCU 2-1 in a resilient effort that didn't necessarily surprise head coach Tom Stone.
For the fifth-year head coach, it's all part of the culture shift and new-found attitude that he has injected into this team during his time at the helm of the program.
"We approached the weekend as we needed two wins. Since we didn't get one, we refocused on getting the second one. I felt like our mentality on Sunday was really good. We put TCU away."
Senior defender and team captain Casey McCall has seen that transformation over the years, and is now more confident than ever in her team's ability to respond to a difficult loss such as that on Friday night.
"For this group I don't think it's difficult," McCall said. "I think if we just mentally focus and physically recover and keep ourselves focused we will be good. I don't think it's hard for our team to regroup like that."
It's a confidence reflected by sophomore goalkeeper Victoria Esson who joined the team in July after transferring from Christchurch, New Zealand.
"I think that was probably one of the most important games for us on the season." goalkeeper Victoria Esson said of Sunday's victory. "Obviously we were a bit disappointed with Friday night's game going down 2-0, but the fact that we were able to bounce back and win 2-1, it was huge. The team needed it in order to look forward to the next game."
And so now, the Red Raiders (9-4 4-2 Big 12) shift their focus to another weekend of matches beginning on Friday when they resume Big 12 play and host Kansas at the John Walker Soccer Complex. Texas Tech will host Texas on Sunday at 7:00 p.m.
The Jayhawks enter Friday's match on the heels of a 2-1 overtime win over Creighton, which snapped a two-match losing streak. Kansas owns an 11-4 advantage in the series after winning six-straight matches between 2004-09, but the Red Raiders snapped the losing streak last season with a 2-0 shutout win in Lubbock.
"They're competitive and they are aggressive." McCall said.
This weekend will mark the final two games of the season at the John Walker Soccer Complex, and Sunday will play host to senior day as Stone will say goodbye to four of his seniors.
Perhaps the best way to send them out, as Stone said, would be to take care of business and secure two crucial wins.
"We are in the hunt." Stone said. "We have done well. These are the game you wait for all year, getting Big 12 games at home and we are looking forward to it."