With two Big 12 games remaining for the Texas Tech soccer team, the Red Raiders are just one victory away from surpassing the most conference wins since 2014.
Tech enters its last two games with an overall record at 12-3-1; 4-2-1 in the Big 12; 6-2-0 at home and 6-1-1 on the road.
The Red Raiders have seen tremendous success in away games, losing their sole road match early on against Boston College, 1-0, on Saturday, Sept. 1. After falling to Boston College, the Red Raider defense has been airtight, paving the way for Tech’s four shutouts in its six subsequent away games.
Perhaps the most essential component on Tech’s lockdown defense is sophomore goalkeeper Marissa Zucchetto. The Mississauga, Ontario, Canada native has earned conference recognition three times throughout this season. Zucchetto’s performances against Oklahoma State, Kansas State and Kansas have garnered her the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week award for two consecutive weeks. Tech coach Tom Stone spoke on Zucchetto’s humility and performance.
“I think in ‘Zu’s’ case, she’d be the first to say -- she’s so humble -- that that’s a team award, a team defensive award. It took all 11 of us to keep Kansas from scoring additional goals or putting us away,” Stone said. “But in the Kansas game specifically, under those (inclement weather) conditions, ‘Zu’ was spectacular.”
Zucchetto’s clean slate helped Tech take a 1-0 victory over the No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowgirls on Friday, Oct. 5, marking the first Red Raider win in Stillwater, Oklahoma, since 1997, according to Tech Athletics. Stone provided insight on why the Red Raiders have performed so well on the road.
“Part of the deal about being a good road team is getting along -- man if you don’t get along, the road is lonely,” Stone said. “The girls are great to each other and they enjoy getting out. Chemistry is a huge component.”
Although defense has played a large part in the team’s success, the Red Raiders’ aggressive approach on the other side of the ball makes Tech a well-rounded club. The Red Raiders are 115-259 on shots on goal attempts. Furthermore, Tech is averaging 16.2 shots per game while holding its opponents to 6.9, according to Tech Athletics.
The Red Raiders typically set the tone early, as they have totaled 130 shots in the first period alone through 16 games. Despite firing on all cylinders out of the gate, Tech’s tenacity keeps the Red Raiders scratching away, even in the second period with 125 shots. Though Tech claims a .108 shot percentage, the offense continues to fire off shots with no hesitation.
“It’s soccer, there’s no way we’re going to score every chance we get,” Stone said. “I think the most impressive part is, we just refuse to go down.”
The Red Raiders are riding a wave of momentum from their three game win streak, as Tech enters its fourth straight road match against Texas Christian set for Friday, Oct. 19, with first touch slated for 7 p.m., according to Tech Athletics. The Red Raiders’ match against TCU will serve as their last away game of the regular season.
Stone went on to mention the leadership role the seniors play within their team. With exemplary leaders, the younger Red Raiders can look up to a group that will consistently advocate for the team’s best interest, regardless of potential consequences.
“They’re just stubborn, my seniors, they’re the most stubborn women I have ever coached- and that’s the biggest compliment I could give them,” Stone said. “They’re not afraid to speak up to the coaches or other players, and they don’t like losing.”
Though Tech has done well in its away bouts, the team is excited to soon return home and conclude its season one game at a time. The Red Raiders will conclude their season by taking on the No. 20 Texas Longhorns at the John Walker Soccer Complex, Thursday, Oct. 25.
“We do look forward to playing the season finale at home,” Stone said. “Really, being in the present is the most important part for the end of the year. I think if you start looking ahead, or getting ahead of yourself, you lose focus.”