After a disappointing defeat at Baylor on Friday, TCU soccer’s next match against UT-Austin was labeled a “must-win” game by head coach Eric Bell.
The team took him at his word and the Horned Frogs defeated the sixth-ranked Longhorns 1-0 courtesy of a late Yazmeen Ryan winner.
“It was really important as we look at RPI (rating percentage index, a metric used to evaluate teams for tournament seeding) and making it into the NCAA tournament,” Bell said. “We want to have a good seeding in the Big 12 tournament and then do well enough in that to make the NCAA tournament.”
The Frogs started in the same flat 4-4-2 formation they played against Baylor, but the personnel was slightly altered — Yazmeen Ryan, who typically plays as a wide midfielder, started as a forward next to Messiah Bright.
This new partnership almost paid immediate dividends, as Ryan found Bright with a through ball in the third minute that put Bright one-on-one with Longhorn goalkeeper Nicole Curry. Curry made a nice kick-save to deny the goal.
TCU played a strong first half but was unable to break the deadlock and went to the locker room tied 0-0. The Frogs led 9-2 in shots after the first half.
UT-Austin appeared sluggish for much of the game — part of that may have been the pressure applied by TCU, but their Friday night match against Oklahoma State that went to extra time likely impacted their energy as well.
That same sluggishness would have been understandable for the Horned Frogs after a difficult loss Friday in Waco, but they came out firing from the opening whistle.
“When we came out in the first half, we were dominating, and that’s definitely something we were looking to do — dominate, dominate, dominate,” said Ryan. “We definitely did that, so I think it set the tone for the whole game.”
TCU found success all afternoon with balls over the top of the defense, as the Longhorns struggled to deal with the pace of the Frog forwards.
Those struggles arose again in the 77th minute when a perfectly weighted chipped pass by Maddy Warren found Yazmeen Ryan behind the defense. Ryan chested it down and finished past the keeper for the opening goal.
— TCU Soccer (@TCUSoccer) September 30, 2018
“At first I thought I played it too far when I chested it, but it was perfect,” said Ryan. “I’m just happy I got the goal.”
Texas began to play more aggressively after the goal in search of an equalizer, but it wasn’t to be, and TCU held on for a 1-0 victory over the Longhorns.
The loss was UT-Austin’s first of the season.
“We urged the group after the game Friday night to stick together through tough times, and I think they exhibited that in a very positive way today,” said Bell.
Ryan’s goal will grab the headlines, but it was a great team performance by the Frogs — particularly by two seniors in the center of the pitch, Karitas Tomasdottir and Kayla Hill.
Hill was calm on the ball and linked the team together, while Tomasdottir was all over the field making important tackles and carrying the ball forward.
“They’ve played a lot of minutes in a lot of big games,” said Bell. “This was another big game on their resume, and they were able to put in a very good performance against a very good team.”
Home-field advantage was important for TCU both for fan support and familiarity.
“We got back to the friendly confines and dimensions of this field that we like, and we were able to play the style of soccer that we wanted to,” said Bell.
The victory moves TCU to 8-3-2 on the season, while UT-Austin falls to 9-1-2. The Frogs have now won four straight against the Longhorns in Fort Worth.
TCU soccer returns to action on Friday at Oklahoma. Kickoff is set for 8 p.m.