LUBBOCK, Texas –Former Red Raiders Rebekah O'Brien and Lauren Watson, both recent alumni of the Texas Tech soccer program, have signed contracts with Assi IF in the Elitettan division of Swedish professional soccer. The two will become teammates again for the first time since their days in Lubbock after spending a year in the pro ranks in Europe.
O'Brien's journey to Assi IF comes by way of Rävåsens, who plays in the first division in Sweden. The defender played in all 26 matches for the club, including all 22 league matches. O'Brien, whose senior season at Tech was in 2017, tallied four goals and two assists for Rävåsens, and for the effort was named the team's Most Valuable Player. She was also recognized as the best defender in the Swedish province of Värmland.
"I am so incredibly excited for this next step in my soccer career," said O'Brien. "Assi is a very good team in a very good league, so I feel blessed that they are bringing me in to contribute to an already talented group. I love Sweden and the people and I love Red Raider Nation, so to combine the two by doing this with Lauren is going to be a dream come true."
Head coach Tom Stone, who has followed O'Brien's career since Tech, was happy to see his 2014 signee out of Spring, Texas, moving up in the soccer ranks.
"It is exciting to see Rebekah work her way up the ladder in her international playing career," he said. "She had a great first year, so it's not surprising she had some options to play at a higher level and we are thrilled to see what she makes of this next challenge."
Watson, whose last season at Tech was in 2016, played for Keflavíc FC in Iceland. She started in all 18 matches this season and posted a 0.78 goals-against average en route to leading her squad to a 15-1-2 record. Coaches and team captains from around the Inkasso League voted her as the top goalkeeper. Her effort helped lead Keflavíc to a promotion to the top division in Iceland, the Pepsi League.
"I am so excited for this opportunity I have been given to play in Sweden," said the native of The Woodlands, Texas. "I enjoyed playing in Iceland, but I knew that I was ready for a change and I am ready to compete in a different country.
"I also can't believe Rebekah and I will be playing together again," she added. "It will be so much fun."
Assistant coach Gibbs Keeton was excited for his former keeper and the new challenge that lies ahead.
"Lauren is a keeper that improved almost daily in her collegiate career, and I anticipate she is doing the same in her professional career," Keeton said. "Any professional team would be lucky to have her."
Stone enjoys the thought of two of his former players getting the opportunity to take the field together again.
"The fact that Rebekah and Lauren get to play as teammates again can make this experience even more special for both of them," he said.
For Keeton, the thought of two former Tech players on one team is exciting.
"Having two Red Raiders on the same pro team will make any team competitive," he said. "It will be fun to watch."
At Tech, Watson and O'Brien were part of a tough Red Raider defense that allowed just one goal in the 2015 Big 12 Tournament, eventually leading the Red Raiders to the program's first-ever Big 12 Championship. Watson made 10 saves throughout the tournament and was named Most Outstanding Defensive Player.