Soccer must utilize their speed to continue tournament success

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The TCU soccer team celebrates their NCAA tournament victory over BYU on Nov. 9, 2018. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto.

For head coach Eric Bell, TCU soccer isn’t just an identifier — it’s a style of play that he believes is essential to his team’s success moving forward in the NCAA Tournament.

“We have to play TCU soccer, which means passing the ball, speed of play and making the game look like soccer,” Bell said. “If we can do those things, I like our chances.”

Yazmeen Ryan converts the winning goal against BYU on Nov. 9, 2018. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto.

With a second-round match against 10th-ranked Texas A&M Friday, this “TCU soccer” style will be put to the test.

Bell acknowledged the Aggies’ speed and skill, particularly on the counterattack and said the Horned Frogs will need to keep the game in front of them to be successful.

One Texas A&M player who could cause trouble for TCU is junior forward Ally Watt. Watt, a player with significant experience for the U.S. under-20 national team, led the Aggies with 14 goals on the season and made the All-SEC first team.

The good news for TCU is that they’re no strangers to speed. TCU defenders face off with forwards Messiah Bright and McKenzie Oliver daily in training, both of whom have shown their pace throughout the season and like to run behind defenses, using their speed to their advantage.

Messiah Bright (11) celebrates her equalizing goal with Karitas Tomasdottir (17) and Yazmeen Ryan (2) against BYU on Nov. 9, 2018. Photo by Cristian ArguetaSoto.

The two teams already have some individual familiarity with each other. Bell said both programs recruit similar players and many have played together at the club level.

“There is an added incentive, if you will, for personal bragging rights between a lot of the players on both teams,” Bell said.

Off the field, Bell said he’s thrilled with what he’s seen from his team.

“I think in terms of togetherness, we’re in a really good spot,” Bell said. “I saw the players’ faces yesterday, and they’re really excited about this opportunity.”

TCU will take on Texas A&M at 1 p.m. Friday in Knoxville, Tenn. The winner will take on either Tennessee or Arizona in the Round of 16.