KANSAS CITY – Five-seed Texas Tech grinded out two overtimes and penalties to down four-seed TCU Sunday afternoon in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Championship. The win earns Tech a trip back to Kansas City for next weekend's semi-finals, where they will play one-seed Baylor on Friday.
"It was a great college soccer game," said head coach Tom Stone after the match. "TCU has had a phenomenal year, and we have a lot of respect for those guys. It's not surprising that it went 0-0."
A back-and-forth affair to begin, Tech gained momentum in the latter portion of the first half, keeping the ball in TCU territory for a majority of the first 45. TCU's best chance came a half-hour into the match when a corner bounced around inside the Tech six-yard box. The Horned Frogs rattled off three shots, each of which was blocked by Tech defenders, while keeper Marissa Zucchetto fought to see from behind the mass of players. Eventually, a TCU chip shot went over the Red Raider defense, but Zucchetto was there to control it.
Tech survived several Horned Frogs threats to begin the second half and began to return the favor as regulation time wound down. The Red Raiders rattled off seven shots in the final 45, but nothing fell. The clock hit all zeroes, and bonus soccer would be required to settle a game for the third time this season.
"Both teams started to wear out towards the end, but we trusted our fitness and our mentality," Stone said.
Tech came out ferocious in the first overtime period, and even more aggressive in the second. The Red Raiders outshot TCU by a 6-3 margin in OT, but the Horned Frogs were able to avoid a golden goal. Jade King and Ally Griffin continued to make pushes up front, with the lone shot on goal of overtime coming off the foot of Griffin, who found space on a Horned Frog defender and placed one right at the TCU keeper and the game went to penalties.
Stone says his squad has been working on penalties all year for this precise reason.
"It's something we've done every week since July," he said. "It was obvious who our five were, and we were confident in all of them."
Co-captain Carly Wickenheiser began penalties with a make, but she was quickly matched by TCU's first taker to even it up. It was in the second round Tech took the lead when Griffin's make was followed by a Horned Frog penalty that sailed high. The TCU miss was all that was needed, as Charlotte Teeter buried her take before Zucchetto took a PK of her own to send it to the final round. King closed it out with a hard shot into the right corner to send Tech past TCU and into the second weekend of Big 12 postseason play.
When asked about Zucchetto being one of the five PK takers, Stone said, "[Assistant coach] Gibbs [Keeton] has been putting her up there at the end of practice every week, and I don't think she's missed one. She is such a good ball striker, and she has the best feet we've ever had in goal at Tech. The whole team was solidly behind her."
Tech's win has earned them a semi-final matchup with the Baylor Bears, who won the Big 12 regular season title.
"We're going up against the team that won our conference," Stone said. "We know what that means, and we know what it'll take to be victorious, which is everything we've got. The good news about our team is we're not afraid to put forth that kind of effort."