No. 15 Texas Tech primed for No. 19 California & Abilene Christi - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

No. 15 Texas Tech primed for No. 19 California & Abilene Christian

Provided by Texas Tech Athletics Provided by Texas Tech Athletics

Provided by Texas Tech Athletics

LUBBOCK, Texas – The No. 15 Texas Tech soccer team faces their first ranked matchup of the season this weekend, when they host No. 19 California on Friday, Sept. 2, at 7 p.m. at the John Walker Soccer Complex. On Sunday, the Red Raiders will square off with Abilene Christian at 1 p.m. in Lubbock.

Both of the weekend's matches will be available via live stream on TexasTech.TV and live stats on TexasTech.Statbroadcast.com.

The Bears (3-1-0) have recorded wins over Cal Poly (1-0), New Mexico (2-0) and Portland (1-0) in 2016, with their lone loss coming against then-No. 21 Cal Poly, 1-0, in double overtime. The Wildcats are 0-3-1 this season and will take on Prairie View A&M on Friday, before traveling to Lubbock.

"They're experienced and they're really confident on the ball," head coach Tom Stone said about Cal. "This is the best Cal team they've ever had. Neil [McGuire] knows he has a chance to make a run at the PAC-12 Championship and make a deep run in the NCAA tournament. He has all the players he needs and they'll be doing the same thing we are, trying to come together at the right time. But this is definitely the top Cal team that has been out there in many years."

The only time the two programs faced off was in 2014, when the No. 7 Red Raiders used golden goal with 32 seconds left in the match by Janine Beckie off a header that found her from a corner kick to defeat No. 11 Cal in Berkeley. Bears head coach Neil McGuire led the Texas Tech soccer program from 2005-06 before moving to Berkeley.

Texas Tech and Abilene Christian have only met once as well, with their match also coming in 2014, when the Red Raiders put together a 2-0 victory in Lubbock over the Wildcats.

Last weekend, the Red Raiders posted a 2-2 draw with Arizona, followed by a 2-0 shutout win over Northeastern, improving to 3-0-1 this season. Tech came from behind twice against the Wildcats on Friday, Aug. 26, with goals by Jade King (2) and Rebekah O'Brien (1). The equalizer by O'Brien, her first score of her career, came in the 89th minute of the match on a strike that floated above the airborne goalkeeper and into the net. Two nights later, two more Red Raiders tallied first career goals in Natalie Schmutz and Gabbie Puente in Tech's 2-0 takedown of the Huskies.

Tech is in the midst of a seven-match homestand to start the 2016 season. Since Stone's arrival in Lubbock, the Red Raiders have amassed an incredible 65-20-4 record at the John Walker Soccer Complex. This is his 10th season at the helm of the Texas Tech soccer program.

CONTINUING THE CLIMB
The Red Raiders jumped again to No. 15 in this week's National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) poll on Aug. 30. It marks 17 consecutive weeks Tech has appeared in the top 25 of the rankings. The Red Raiders debuted at No. 19 in the preseason poll on Aug. 2, and were ranked 16th in last week's standings. Two of Tech's opponents are also ranked in the latest poll, with three others receiving votes.

TOP 20 SHOWDOWN
Friday will mark the first ranked matchup for the Red Raiders this season, taking on No. 19 Cal at the John Walker Soccer Complex. The match will be only the second in the all-time series between the programs, with both teams ranked in each contest. Texas Tech will look to continue its recent success against ranked non-conference foes, as Tech has won four consecutive matchups and are 5-2 all-time under head coach Tom Stone against ranked non-conference opponents.

-7.5
Tech's 2-0 shutout victory over Northeastern on Aug. 28 moved senior goalkeeper Lauren Watson's career shutout total to 21.5. Already sitting in second place in the all-time records at Texas Tech in career shutouts, she is now 7.5 behind school record holder Victoria Esson for the lead in the category.

BUILDING A WALL
Watson entered last weekend with 172 career saves, needing only three more to move into No. 5 on the career saves list at Texas Tech. After recording nine against Arizona and two more in the win over Northeastern, she took sole possession of the fifth spot in the standings with 183. She is now 30 saves away from Victoria Esson in fourth at 213.

TRIO OF FIRSTS
Three Red Raiders notched their first career goals last weekend. Junior defender Rebekah O'Brien tallied the equalizer in the 89th minute against Arizona on Friday, Aug. 26. The first score of the night against Northeastern came from junior forward Natalie Schmutz, while Tech's second tally came from the foot of redshirt freshman defender Gabbie Puente.

YOUNG FIREPOWER
Texas Tech freshmen have put up five of the team's seven goals this season. Two each have come from forward Jade King & midfielder Jordie Harr, while the other was netted by redshirt freshman defender Gabbie Puente. King (25 & 11) and Harr (8 & 5) also lead the squad in shots and shots on goal, respectively.

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