MORGANTOWN, W. Va. – The Texas Tech soccer team battled from a first half deficit to complete a 1-1 draw at No. 8 West Virginia on Thursday afternoon at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium.
The Red Raiders (8-6-2, 1-4-2) fell behind on a last minute goal in the opening half from the Mountaineers (12-3-1, 5-1-1) after staving off nine first period shots from WVU. In the 61st minute, junior defender Brooke Denesik broke the scoring drought and buried the equalizer as Tech and West Virginia fought to a 1-1 decision.
“Obviously, we respect the quality of West Virginia’s team,” head coach Tom Stone said. “So, we had to make some changes to defend them at a level that would keep us in the game and we could not be more pleased with the team wide commitment to defending tonight.
"Given our commitment to defending today, we had 11 shots of our own, scored a beauty of a restart and smacked the crossbar that would have put us up at that point. So, finding that balance on the other end was crucial today in getting that impressive road point at WVU."
It was the first time the two teams have played to a draw in the series history and was the first draw for WVU this year. The last time the Mountaineers had finished a home conference match in a tie was on Oct. 12, 2012, in a 1-1 contest against Baylor.
Tech finished the night with 11 shots, including seven in the second frame and three during the two overtime periods. Freshman keeper Marissa Zucchetto racked up a season-high eight saves in her second start of the year after WVU rattled off 35 shots.
The Red Raiders were solid defensively for most of the first half, as Zucchetto denied the Mountaineers with four great saves. She would face nine shots in the opening frame, while WVU earned four corner kicks.
With less than a minute left in the period, WVU’s Alli Magaletta sent a pass over to Amandine Pierre-Louis, who from 20 yards out fired a shot toward the right post. A diving Zucchetto was able to get a hand on it but not enough as it snuck in the back of the net for the 1-0 lead just before the halftime whistle.
The Red Raiders would have a couple looks in the frame, but registered just one shot in the first 45 minutes of action. A strike from the left corner of the box from sophomore forward Jade King that traveled wide right of the net in the 30th minute, along with two offside calls was all for Tech before the break.
Tech withstood a flurry of shots to begin the second half, then flipped the field and found a couple of great offensive chances, which snowballed into a game-tying score. After a pair of shots from freshman forward Ally Griffin that missed the net, she had a look at another, but was fouled just outside the box. The ensuing free kick from Denesik was a perfect shot to the top-left corner of the net and out of the reach of the WVU keeper for the score.
It was her first goal of the year and made her the 10th Red Raider to score at least one tally in 2017. Her goal was also the first from Tech in four matches.
Tech looked to have a go-ahead score in the 81st minute after a chance from King and sophomore defender Mary Heiberger, but the two opportunities hit off the crossbar & were stopped by WVU’s keeper. The Red Raiders would have a couple chances in overtime, but couldn’t convert, while staving off a game-winning score in the process. Nine of Tech’s starting XI played the entirety of the match, helping Tech earn another point toward its conference standings.
"We are aware of our need for points,” Stone said. “We played like a desperate team today and it took us up a level in several categories. We still have a lot to improve on and also a lot of soccer left starting with Iowa State on Sunday.”
The Red Raiders now head to Ames to take on Iowa State on Sunday, Oct. 22, at 1 p.m. at the Cyclone Sports Complex.
"We are not surprised by the result because we have been so good at times this year, but have let down at key moments,” Stone said. “Tonight, we saw it through to the end and got a big point that I felt like we earned over the 110 minutes. I am happy for the girls but most of all this performance lets us know what we are capable of. Now we have to carry it forward."