The Texas Tech soccer team is scheduled to kick off the first round of the NCAA Tournament against the No. 21 Princeton Tigers at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 9, at the John Walker Soccer Complex in Lubbock.
The Red Raiders recently endured a loss against the Baylor Bears in the semifinal round of the Big 12 Championship, according to Tech Athletics. The match carried on into overtime, but Tech was unable to capitalize on any of its late opportunities, ultimately falling to Baylor, 2-1.
This is the Red Raiders’ sixth time in the last seven years to have clinched a spot in the NCAA Tournament, according to Tech Athletics. Last year’s shortcoming snapped the team’s five year-streak of earning a bid into the bracket challenge, and after a one-year hiatus, Tech is once again looking forward to the occasion.
The contest with Princeton marks Tech’s first time hosting a NCAA Tournament First Round match since the 2015 season, according to Tech Athletics. This also accounts for the first time the Tigers have ever made a trip to Lubbock, and Tech coach Tom Stone said he is eager for the matchup.
“It’s exciting to see a team we’ve never played – and probably won’t ever get on a regular season schedule – coming our way,” Stone said according to Tech Athletics. “They’ll get great hospitality here, and we’ll put on a great production Friday night to make both teams feel like it’s a special night.”
Princeton ended its regular season with a record of 11-3-2, according to Tech Athletics. PU made a historic run to the Elite Eight last season, knocking off North Carolina State as well as the No. 2 ranked North Carolina Tar Heels.
Both the Tigers and Red Raiders enter the playoffs toting two of the most authoritative defenses in the nation, according to Tech Athletics. Princeton is tied with Tech in shutouts, amassing 12 each, which ties for second in the country.
“Their team is deep,” Stone said according to Tech Athletics. “The coach has done a great job with them, and they are super organized. I’ve been an admirer of what they’ve been able to build in the Ivy League. They’re as good as any team out there and easily a top-20 team.”
Tech hopes to bring a sufficient solution for scoring on Princeton’s high-powered defense, as the Red Raiders have netted a collective 30 goals on the season, according to Tech Athletics. Tech has also successfully shutout six Big 12 opponents thus far, in a conference ranked second in the nation in RPI.
The Red Raiders’ plan is to approach this matchup as any regular soccer game, and they need to hone in on one of their main strengths, team chemistry, according to Tech Athletics. Tech dons a strong 7-2 record while playing at home this season, compared to Princeton’s away record of 6-0 on the year.
“We just need to focus on who we are,” sophomore forward Kirsten Davis, who was recently listed to the Big 12 All-Tournament Team, said on the upcoming postseason match. “We have so much chemistry off the bench and on the bench, and that really shows on the field.”
The last time the Red Raiders hosted a First Round matchup, Tech defeated the University of North Texas, 1-0, according to Tech Athletics. The Red Raiders then went on to compete against Auburn University in the second round of the Tournament where they fell in overtime, 3-2.