The Texas Tech soccer team will honor five Red Raiders for senior night at 7 p.m. on Friday to celebrate their commitment to the program.
Senior defender Margaret Begley appeared in 17 games her rookie season for Tech and started in one game as a freshman, according to Tech Athletics. Begley suffered two consecutive ACL injuries preventing her from being on the field, but this season, Begley was named a captain for the 2019 season. In both her sophomore and redshirt junior season, Begley earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors for her dedication in the classroom.
“I think (tears) will come more on our last game than on Friday,” Begley said. “(Abilene Christian) have always played us hard. It’s never been an easy game against them and with it being senior night and on our home field, they are going to play us hard and we cannot take it easy.”
Senior defender Gabbie Puente was injured at the start of her collegiate career, but returned to the field in 2016, according to Tech Athletics. Along with the comeback, she was named to the Academic All-Big 12 First Team during her redshirt freshman, sophomore and junior seasons. Not only did Puente work for her perfect 4.0 grade point average in 2018, but she also appeared in 19 matches and earned her first start of the season against Baylor.
Both Puente and Begley have been a part of the program since 2015 and were Red Raiders when Tech won the first Big 12 Championship in program history, according to a Tech Athletics news release.
Transferring to Tech after her sophomore season at Oregon, senior midfielder Jayne Lydiatt made her name for herself here as a Red Raider. Lydiatt played in all 22 matches last year and racked up one assist and three attempted shots this season.
Begley, Puente and Lydiatt will lead the Red Raiders as head coach Tom Stone named the trio team captains for the 2019 season, according to the release.
As Tech is four games into its season, Lydiatt said the team’s communication has been a key factor in how the Red Raiders are winning games and shutting out well-known teams.
“[Winning] builds our confidence, builds our chemistry and we are seeing a lot of different players scoring and a lot of different combinations up top and through the defense,” Lydiatt said. “It’s a lot of fun to be a part of.”
Along with the three senior captains, defender Savanna Jones is also playing her final season with Tech. Jones earned Academic All-Big 12 First Team honors in both her junior and sophomore seasons, according to Tech Athletics. In addition to her academic achievements, Jones has scored a goal in three games and has played a total of 117 minutes this season.
As Tech prepares to take on ACU for its senior night, Jones said playing the Wildcats will not be easy, but her and the rest of the team are prepared.
“Last season in the fall we beat (ACU) 1-0 in a really tough game, so we are going to have to be physical and have grit. They are really good,” Jones said. “It doesn’t really change that its senior night. It’ll be five minutes of celebrating the seniors, but then we have to be all focused and on the game. Senior night really doesn’t matter. We need to win and focus on our performance.”
The final senior on Tech’s roster, forward Demi Koulizakis, came to Tech from Australia and began her collegiate career appearing in 18 games, starting in three, according to Tech Athletics. After her freshman season, Koulizakis appeared in a combined 30 games her sophomore and junior season. Off the field, Koulizakis was named to the Academic All-Big 12 team for her performance in the classroom in her sophomore and junior seasons. In addition to her academic honors, Koulizakis was named the Most Improved Player by her teammates in 2018.
In the game against UNT, Koulizakis recorded two assists, and Stone said she was the Most Valuable Player of the game.
“She was unbelievable. She came off the bench, created two goals and hit every ball in the air,” Stone said. “Demi (Koulizakis) was from another planet.”
As of Sunday, Koulizakis made her 50th appearance as a Red Raider and recorded four shots on goal, two assists and played a total of 119 minutes this season, according to Tech Athletics.
Senior forward Jade King suffered an injury and will not participate in senior night,as she plans to apply for a redshirt for the 2019 season, according to the release.
In her three seasons with the Red Raiders, King ranks seventh in single-season shot attempts with 75 in 2016, according to Tech Athletics. King also ranks eighth in career shot attempts and career game-winning goals, with six goals as her career-high. In her junior season, King was the team’s leading scorer with eight goals and started every game but one.
All six seniors are a part of a diverse bunch coming from all different backgrounds, according to the release. One came from across the world, one traveled to Texas from Oregon and two battled through season-ending injuries.
“It’s always a special game because everyone just wants to play for the seniors,” junior midfielder Amanda Porter said. “They want to give them everything and their respect.”