Texas Tech soccer heads to Morgantown for showdown with No. 1 We - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Texas Tech soccer heads to Morgantown for showdown with No. 1 West Virginia

Source: TTU Athletics Source: TTU Athletics

Provided by Texas Tech Athletics

LUBBOCK, Texas – The Texas Tech soccer team hits the road for Morgantown to square off with No. 1 West Virginia on Friday at Dick Dlesk Soccer Stadium at 5 p.m. CST.

The match will be broadcast live on ESPNU and on the ESPN app. It is the second match the Red Raiders have played on TV this season and marks the first of three-straight television appearances. Friday's announce team will consist of Jonathan Yardley & Cat Whitehill.

"Often the danger of playing a No. 1 that you don't know is that you've just never been on the field with them," head coach Tom Stone said. "But, when that No. 1 team is in your conference, there's a lot of familiarity. Their roster is full of upper-classmen who have seen a lot of good times in their program and they're trying to have a good senior season. In our case, we're a young team that is finding itself along the way.

"So, you have two teams in two different places. They're tough to beat at home and we're tough to beat at home, normally. We're looking forward to the challenge and we have a lot of respect for them, but that doesn't mean we're going to lay down once we get there."

The Mountaineers (12-1-1, 4-0-0) are ranked No. 1 in this week's National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA), Soccer America and TopDrawerSoccer.com's rankings. West Virginia also holds a No. 2 spot in the latest RPI rankings. Last weekend, WVU took down Kansas, 1-0, and Iowa State, 2-0, both on the road, to remain undefeated in Big 12 play. Junior forward Michaela Abam paces the Mountaineers with seven goals, which ranks second in the conference; while freshman goalkeeper Rylee Foster leads the league in goals against average at 0.36.

Tech slightly trails the all-time series between the two programs, 2-3-0, with the last meeting coming in the semifinal of the 2015 Big 12 Championship. In that match, the Red Raiders posted a 1-0 victory over the Mountaineers en route to their first conference title. WVU boasts a 32-match unbeaten streak at home against conference opponents heading into this weekend, including 15-straight against Big 12 members.

The Red Raiders (8-4-2, 1-3-0) will look to bounce back after a tough weekend last week. Tech dropped a pair of matches to Oklahoma State and Baylor, both 1-0, to complete the first half of conference play. The Red Raiders racked up 20 shots against the Cowgirls, the most in a Big 12 bout by Tech this season, with midfielder Jordan Duke tallying eight, which leads the league for shots in a single-conference match.

"From a mentality standpoint, it's going to take a lot more than one weekend of two one-goal games to break the spirit of this team," Stone said. "A lot more. We have too much history, too much tradition, the culture is strong and the girls are into it. They were devastated, but they're not mailing it in now the rest of the way. We've got their full attention, they've got their full attention and we're going to be ready to go."

The Big 12 schedule is a daunting eight-match slate, with all but the first two dates coming during the month of October. After this weekend, Tech will continue their three-match road swing with in-state rivals Texas (Oct. 21) & TCU (Oct. 23). The Red Raiders will conclude the regular season at the John Walker Soccer Complex against No. 22 Oklahoma on Oct. 28, before the conference tournament the following week. Four of Tech's Big 12 opponents are ranked or receiving votes in the latest NSCAA poll.

The Red Raiders have had 12 different players log all 90+ minutes of action in at least one match this season. Leading the way is senior keeper Lauren Watson, who has been in goal for every minute of every contest in 2016. Defenders Rebekah O'Brien and Brooke Denesik follow closely behind in full-matches played with 10 and nine, respectively. The other nine competitors to have accomplished the feat so far include: Cassie Boren (7), Mary Heiberger (3), Carly Wickenheiser (3), Jordan Duke (2), Jordie Harr (2), Gwennie Puente (2), Cassie Conarty (2), Jade King (2) and Margaret Begley (2).

Tech has had nine different goal scorers in 2016. On Sept. 23 in Lawrence, No. 9 came from junior defender Cassie Conarty, who found the ball at midfield against Kansas, dribbled it up near the Jayhawk box, then fired a shot to the right-side of the goal for the score.

Seven Red Raiders have notched their first career goals during the 2016 season. The last to do so was sophomore midfielder Jordan Duke, who tallied the lone goal over ORU on Sept. 9 with a header after locating a corner kick from sophomore defender Margaret Begley from the far side of the field. While three are freshman, the other half have come from two juniors (Rebekah O'Brien & Natalie Schmutz) and two sophomores (Cassie Boren & Duke).

Texas Tech freshmen have put up eight of the team's 19 goals this season. Five have come from the team-leader in goals, forward Jade King, while midfielder Jordie Harr and redshirt freshman defender Gabbie Puente have posted two and one scores, respectively, in 2016.

Freshman forward Jade King is a threat to put a ball in the back of the net every time she touches the ball. She notched her team-high fourth & fifth goals of the season against Iowa State on Sept. 25 in Tech's 3-0 win over the Cyclones. Her two scores are the most by an individual player in a single conference match this season. She sits in second in overall in the league in shots (62) and shots per game (4.43), while maintaining her top 20 NCAA ranking in the latter at No. 18.

Senior goalkeeper Lauren Watson posted her fifth shutout of the season on Sept. 25 after a 3-0 victory against Iowa State. Her total ranks second in the conference standings and ranks in the top 50 in the NCAA. Already sitting in second place in the all-time records at Texas Tech in career shutouts, she is now 4.5 behind school record holder Victoria Esson for the lead in the category with 24.5.

Watson entered the season with 168 career saves, needing only seven 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, along with her four in the opening weekend, she took sole possession of the fifth spot in the standings. Her nine saves against Arizona on Aug. 26 are tied for the most in a single-match by a Big 12 goalkeeper this season. Last weekend, she added up seven more saves, two against Oklahoma State and five vs. Baylor, giving her 55 this season for a career total of 223. In the Iowa State match, she passed Victoria Esson for fourth all-time at Texas Tech at 213. The third-place keeper, Megan Knauss, put together a career mark of 266 saves from 2002-05.

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