LUBBOCK, Texas – Texas Tech's bid to host its first NCAA Tournament First Round match since 2015 came to fruition Monday afternoon when it was announced the John Walker Complex would have one more game this season: a Friday night face-off between the Red Raiders and the Tigers of No. 21 Princeton.
The draw of Princeton was surprising, but head coach Tom Stone is excited to invite someone new to Lubbock.
"It's exciting to see a team we've never played – and probably won't ever get on a regular season schedule – coming our way," he said. "They'll get great hospitality here and we'll put on a great production Friday night to make both teams feel like it's a special night."
Stone expects a strong Princeton team to show up Friday; the Tigers arrive one year removed from knocking off No. 2 North Carolina en route to a historic Elite Eight run in last year's NCAA Tournament.
"Their team is deep," said Stone. "The coach has done a great job with them, and they are super organized. I've been an admirer of what they've been able to build in the Ivy League. They're as good as any team out there and easily a top-20 team."
The Tigers enter postseason play with one of the top defenses in the nation, tied with Tech for second in the nation with 12 shutouts. Complimenting their defense is an offense that has outscored opponents 24-9 over the course of the fall.
"Princeton has a lot of assets – from their front line to their goalkeeper," Stone said.
Tech will counter with an offense that has netted 30 goals this season while shutting out six conference foes in a Big 12 that ranks second in the nation in average RPI this year.
For the Red Raiders, it is important to play Friday like a normal soccer game while also remembering that it is winner-take-all. For a team that just missed last year's tournament but returns nearly everyone, chemistry is one of the biggest strengths this Red Raider team possesses.
"We just need to focus on who we are," said sophomore forward Kirsten Davis, who has scored three of Tech's last six goals and was named to the Big 12 All-Tournament Team. "We have so much chemistry off the bench and on the bench, and that really shows on the field."
Tech's last time playing host for an NCAA Tournament game ended in favor of the Red Raiders, as they were victorious over visiting North Texas, 1-0, to secure advancement to the second round in 2015. In the program's four times hosting, Tech has scored 14 times while not allowing a single opposing goal at the John Walker Complex.
First touch for Friday evening's NCAA match is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the John Walker Complex. Tickets may be purchased here.