With Big 12 Conference play looming, a 3-0 defeat to seventh-ranked Santa Clara on Thursday cast doubt on TCU soccer’s high expectations for this season.
That doubt was eradicated Sunday afternoon as the Horned Frogs scored four goals in seven minutes at Garvey-Rosenthal Soccer Stadium to defeat No. 23 Butler, 6-1.
Kayla Hill recorded a hat trick (3 goals) and Maddy Warren, Messiah Bright and Cachet Lue each recorded a goal of their own. TCU outshot the Bulldogs 22-7 and controlled possession for much of the match.
“I thought that in the second half, we came out and really picked it up,” Hill said. “After Thursday’s loss, coming back and getting a win against a ranked opponent was huge.”
The Frogs started the same lineup they rolled out against Santa Clara but saw significantly more success against a Butler team that wasn’t as technically skilled.
“I think we learned some lessons from a very good team Thursday,” TCU head coach Eric Bell said. “There are some things we still need to work on, but it was a good performance.”
The game was scoreless until the 21st minute when Hill broke the deadlock with her first goal of the afternoon. Hill received a pass from Warren at the top of the box, found some space and sent it past Butler goalkeeper Hannah Luedtke.
The score remained 1-0 until the 55th minute when Hill opened the floodgates with a deflected shot that found its way over the outstretched arm of substitute goalkeeper Leonie Doege.
TCU only needed 31 seconds to score again. Bright found Warren with a through ball from the left side, and Warren put it past the goalkeeper toward the far post for a 3-0 lead.
In the 58th minute, Bright scored a goal of her own, as a lofted cross from Karitas Tomasdottir found her in the box. Bright out-jumped a Butler defender and headed it into the far corner.
Bright almost tallied another goal two minutes later, but her shot was saved by Doege. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, the rebound fell right to Kayla Hill, who slotted it into the bottom-left corner for her third of the afternoon.
“We got the ball moving — especially in the second half, we got it moving faster,” Hill said. “Finding those little pockets between the midfield and the defense really helped me get shots off.”
Butler pulled a goal back from the penalty spot in the 61st minute, when TCU defender Isabelle Juarez committed a foul in the box. Defender Annika Schmidt put the penalty past TCU goalkeeper Katie Lund for the Bulldogs’ only goal of the day.
The Frogs added a penalty of their own in the 73rd minute when Tijana Djuricek was brought down by a defender in the box. Cachet Lue buried the ensuing penalty for the first goal of her college career, and TCU saw out the rest of the match for a 6-1 victory.
The foul resulted in an apparent leg injury for Djuricek — she walked off the field with a noticeable limp, and her status is questionable moving forward.
While Kayla Hill’s hat trick was impressive, TCU’s forward play was crucial to their success as well. Bright and Warren started up front, and their ability to hold the ball up allowed the Frogs to get more numbers into the attack.
“It allows us to keep the ball higher up the field and not just have to play behind the forwards,” Bell said. “It also softens up the defense so they have to deal with us playing in front of their backline and making movements off of them.”
TCU opens Big 12 play Friday when they host Iowa State. The match is scheduled for 6 p.m.