The Frogs (5-6-2) enter the final third of their season with five conference matches left to play with their record hovering at the .500 mark.Mountain West Conference play began last week with a pair of matches against the BYU Cougars (10-2-1) and the New Mexico Lobos (6-4-3), both held at TCU.
TCU was held scoreless by No. 15 BYU in a 2-0 loss Thursday and the Horned Frogs fought to a 0-0 double-overtime draw against New Mexico, Sunday.
“We really got settled in and played better during the second half against BYU,” said head coach Dan Abdalla. “I am happy the match came down to a matter of three or four chances. We just couldn’t score the equalizer in the second half.”
The team was able to adjust to the offensively-geared play of BYU and held the Cougars scoreless during the first half, Abdalla said.
Sunday’s match against New Mexico had TCU coming out with enthusiasm, Abdalla said.
“We were unlucky and hit the crossbar twice,” Abdalla said.
As the season moves forward, signs of improvement are present from this year’s squad compared to the 2005 team, Abdalla said.
“We are significantly better defensively, and we cut the goals against us in half,” Abdalla said. “We have been creating more scoring opportunities in both numbers and quality.”
The offense that helps manufacture the bulk of the scoring opportunities is made up of predominantly underclassmen.
“I think the confidence is growing with all of our young players,” Abdalla said.
Half of the team’s goals on the season can be attributed to the work of freshman striker Lizzy Karoly and freshman midfielder Michelle Nguyen.
Karoly is leading the team with five goals, and her two scores against the University of Texas at San Antonio on Sept. 23 earned her Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week.
Nguyen is leading the team with three assists and has three goals so far. Her breakout weekend at the Tulsa University Women’s Soccer Grover Classic earned her All-Tournament honors as she tallied two goals and two assists during the tournament.
“They (underclassmen) are becoming more dangerous and pulling the trigger,” Abdalla said. “Their composure is growing as their confidence increases.”
The other top scorer from the Frogs, junior midfielder Lauren Pope, has four goals on the season, but suffered a knee injury against Sam Houston State on Sept. 15.
Pope underwent surgery and will miss the rest of the season, Abdalla said. Stepping up and filling her shoes in the midfield line was Nguyen.
Surprises on this year’s squad have come from the senior presence of defenders Breanne Kaldheim and Karissa Hill, Abdalla said.
“Kaldheim has worked her way into a leadership role as an anchor in the backs this year,” Abdalla said.