LUBBOCK, Texas – The Texas Tech soccer team put a bow on the regular season with a 3-0 victory over Oklahoma on Friday night at the John Walker Soccer Complex.
The Red Raiders (9-6-3, 2-4-3) capped senior night with its first three-goal effort since the Big 12 opener against Kansas State (3-1) on Sept. 22. Freshman forward Ally Griffin (39'), senior defender Cassie Conarty (48') and junior midfielder Gwennie Puente (77') all scored to propel Tech past the Sooners (3-12-4, 1-5-3) in the last regular season match of the year in Lubbock.
The win also secured the No. 7 seed for the Red Raiders in the Big 12 tournament, with a date set with No. 2 West Virginia on Wednesday, Nov. 1, at 5:30 p.m.
"We've played well so many times this year and have found ourselves on the other side of it," head coach Tom Stone said. "So tonight, we played well, defended well and scored three goals. We kind of needed to finish strong, regardless of who we play next week. We needed a good performance and we wanted to honor these seniors. Natalie [Schmutz], [Haleigh] Fancher, Rebekah [O'Brien] and Cassie [Conarty]. They're never going to forget their senior night here with a big win over a conference rival."
Griffin put the Red Raiders on the board first in the opening frame after a deep pass from junior midfielder Carly Wickenheiser cut through the OU defense and found Griffin at the right corner of the box. From there, it was a one-on-one showdown between Griffin and the OU keeper, as Griffin slotted a shot inside the right post and in the net for the 1-0 lead.
The goal was Griffin's first since Tech's 3-1 victory over K-State in the conference opener on Sept. 22. It also increased her team-lead to six goals in 2017.
Tech took a 1-0 lead into the break, which six shots, including three on frame. The Red Raiders held OU without a shot in the opening half, surrendering just one corner kick, while earning four of their own.
"That's a stat that just bolsters confidence," Stone said on holding the Sooners without a shot in the first half. "We blocked a lot of shots, which is awesome, and we're getting between their crossers and the cross, and that's all stuff that we have to build our confidence on. So, a stat like that is pretty black and white."
OU would record only four shots in the second half, with only one needing freshman goalkeeper Marissa Zucchetto to pick up a save. Tech countered with nine of its own, six on goal, helping push the Red Raiders to two more tallies and a 3-0 final.
Just a few minutes after halftime, Tech added the insurance goal to go up, 2-0, on the Sooners. Conarty controlled the ball down the left wing, made a move to open up a lane and fired a shot to the upper-90 for the 2-0 lead.
It was Conarty's first goal of the year and made her the 11th Red Raider to score in 2017.
Conarty wasn't the only senior to find the scoresheet on senior night. Forward Natalie Schmutz made a great play on a ball and kicked a pass across her body to a streaking Puente, who took the pass at the top of the box and fired it past the diving keeper for the 3-0 advantage. It was Puente's third goal of the year and Schmutz' first assist of the season.
The win was the second-straight year the Red Raiders capped the regular season against OU, as Tech defeated the Sooners in 2016 in double overtime to punch their ticket to the Big 12 tournament. This year's win, kept the Red Raiders in seventh for this year's tourney.
"I hope it tightens the team up and gives us the belief we've been looking for," Stone said. "I think we've known all year we were good, but you have to get over on somebody and it all has to come together at some point. I think it gives us confidence for next week and we will certainly train hard to get ready for it."
The Red Raiders return to action against the Mountaineers in the opening round of the Big 12 tournament for the second-straight season, with first touch set for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 1, at Swope Soccer Village.