“We’re very excited to be back in the tournament,” Bell said. “I came to TCU with the ambition to build a nationally prominent program. It’s year six and we’ve gone to back-to-back tournaments, now it’s all about the next game against Arizona. I’m very happy with where we’re at.”
The Frogs will enter the postseason with some players who are dealing with injuries, such as Emma Heckendorn, Allison Ganter and Tijana Djuricek, who were on the wrong end of many major collisions in the Big 12 tournament.
“We’re banged up, but that’s what everyone is like at this point in the season,” Bell said. “Our trainers have done a wonderful job getting our kids back to where they need to be, so we will be fine. Playing three games in five days is really tough on their bodies, so we are in the process of recovering from that right now. Hopefully, by Friday we will be ready to go.”
The Horned Frogs made history last season as they made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in school history. TCU is one of only 34 teams to qualify for the tournament in consecutive seasons.
TCU enters the tournament coming off a stellar performance in the Big 12 Tournament, coming just short of the title. TCU lost to the Baylor Bears in the championship game in overtime 2-1. The Horned Frogs defeated the Kansas Jayhawks and West Virginia Mountaineers in the tournament, both games finishing in hard-fought penalty kick sessions. Bell praised goalkeeper Katie Lund for her play down the stretch.
“Katie in goal has been fantastic,” Bell said. “She had a great Big 12 tournament and was able to get us to the finals with two big saves in the penalty shootouts. She’s playing at a really high level.”
The Frogs will bring a young team to Arizona for the tournament, but Bell trusts his players to not get too caught up in the moment.
“Being in the Big 12 tournament gives us a taste of being battle-tested,” Bell said. “Our younger kids are really looking forward to have the opportunity to be in something they aren’t familiar with.”
TCU posted an all-time best record in conference play at 6-2-1, finishing third in the Big 12 during the regular season and with an overall 12-6-3 record on the season.
The Big 12 is represented well in the NCAA tournament as five teams from the conference will play postseason soccer. West Virginia was selected as a No. 2 seed in the field, Baylor earned an automatic bid by defeating the Frogs in the championship match and Oklahoma State and Texas secured at-large bids.
Friday’s matchup against Arizona is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Bell said Arizona plays a game very similar schematically to one of TCU’s biggest rivals.
“They remind us a little bit of Baylor, both in their approach and how they play,” Bell said. “They aren’t as physical as Baylor, though. Throughout the season Baylor had 23 yellow cards while Arizona had seven. They’re physical, but nothing like we faced this weekend.”
The winner of Friday’s match with Arizona will face either Ole Miss or Florida State at a site yet to be determined. The next round will begin Friday, Nov. 17.