Sunday’s match came on the heels of Friday night’s victory over the Kansas Jayhawks in double overtime, a game that saw a walk-off rocket from sophomore midfielder Tara Smith reach the top corner of the goal in the 105th minute.
“Two wins in conference play is always good,” Bell said. “Fortunately we were able to get that done today. We are atop of the table at 2-0 and happy to be there.”
With both games ending in hard-fought, one goal victories for the Frogs, head coach Eric Bell said there are no similarities in style of play between the Jayhawks and the Wildcats.
The first half against the Big 12’s newest women’s soccer club was dominated by the Horned Frogs. The Frogs generated nine corners, nine shots and pressured the Wildcats’ defense for the full 45 minutes, but were unable to crack the scoreboard. TCU controlled possession for most of the half, but only created two shots on goal.
The first frame was all about the defense for both clubs. Kansas State’s goalkeeper Miranda Larkin and TCU’s goalkeeper Katie Lund were not pressured in the first half and a myriad of possessions were cut off by members of both backlines due to lackluster performance from attackers on either team.
The comfort level of the Wildcats seemed to rise dramatically as the game progressed. The second frame proved to be much more competitive as Kansas State was able to neutralize the Horned Frogs’ attack and limit the scoring chances. TCU continued to rack up the shots and the corner attempts in the match, but none were able to generate any quality chances.
The lack of experience for Kansas State didn’t seem to phase them, as they continued to battle as the night progressed.
“They battled just as I expected them to,” Bell said. “They gave themselves a chance, and I thought our kids were pretty resilient in getting a bunch of scoring opportunities off their defense.”
“I think they are an incredible team and have a great program,” senior forward Emma Heckendorn said. “All props to them, I think they have a bright future.”
TCU’s defense didn’t let up in the half. The Frogs only allowed one shot in the second half and Lund was untested on the night. The Wildcats had no shots on goal.
The Frogs were able to crack the scoreboard in unorthodox fashion in the 76th minute. A cross into the box from senior defender Ryan Williams found the head of Kansas State defender Morgan Egan. In an attempt to clear the ball out of harms way, an odd bounce off her head caught Larkin off-guard and found the back of the net. The own goal was Kansas State’s second allowed of the season.
The goal gave TCU a much-needed boost of momentum. Immediately after the goal, junior midfielder McKenzie Oliver found herself in a place to double the lead from a long pass from junior midfielder Karitas Tomasdottir. A burst of speed from Oliver separated her from an oncoming defender, but her shot sailed over the crossbar.
The goal proved to be the deciding factor in today’s match as the Wildcats were unable to find an equalizer in the late stages of the match.
In the second half, TCU continued to add corner kicks to the box score, finishing with 15 on the night. Bell gives all the credit to Kansas State’s defense on not allowing a goal off the set pieces.
“I think that we have to be a little more cut-throat in front of goal to find a way to finish off these chances,” Bell said. “I give them some credit, but we have to be better.”
When asked about the mentality of the team at this point in the season versus at the beginning of conference play last season, senior forward Emma Heckendorn Heckendorn said that the team is looking to put last year’s dismal start to Big 12 play in the rear-view mirror and only focus on what’s ahead of them.
“Last year we were riding a high going into Big 12 play and hit our low in Big 12 play,” Heckendorn said. “This year, we were high earlier and hit our low sooner, so now we are able to rise and hit the high later in the season.”
The Frogs will host Oklahoma State Friday night at Garvey Rosenthal Soccer Stadium for their final match of their three-game homestead. Kickoff against the Cowgirls is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.