The lights were bright and the stands were full Tuesday night as the Horned Frogs women’s soccer team faced off against the Mexican women’s national team. Although they fought aggressively the whole game, the Horned Frogs fell 4-1 to Mexico.
Horned Frogs’ starting goalkeeper Kelsey Walters came up with a dozen huge plays in the first half, but she was beat by Mexico’s forward Monica Ocampo in the 24th minute. The Horned Frog’s sophomore defender Katie Taylor finished off a sophomore defender Alex Mechalske cross, putting one on the scoreboard toward the end of the first half to tie the game.
The speed and creativity of Mexico tested the Horned Frogs as they controlled the midfield for the majority of the game. Midfielder Tania Morales provided trouble for the Horned Frogs as she made multiple runs down the left side of the field, getting a few crosses in the TCU box. Rival chants of “TCU!” and “Mexico!” were shouted in the stands amid the multitude of fouls committed on the field. Mexico scored again with seven minutes left in the first half after a Tania Morales cross to Ocampo.
The Horned Frogs headed into halftime following a one-handed diving save that junior goalkeeper Kelsey Walters directed over the goal.
“Wally in the net, she came up with some very good saves,” said head coach Dan Abdalla.
The second half began with substitutions by both teams. Sophomore forward Jenna Hayes and senior midfielder Michelle Nguyen on the field, and freshman goalkeeper Kira Michelson-Bartlett in goal for the Horned Frogs. This half featured a fired-up Horned Frogs team, who quickly had the ball in Mexico’s penalty box. The fire, however, spread to Mexico, who substituted in fresh players and soon had Abdalla shouting from the sidelines for his team to move up the field.
There was a lull in the game as Mexico’s Marilyn Diaz was taken down in the Mexican half of the field and had to be carried off, as she limped badly on her right leg. The TCU defense was kept busy clearing dangerous balls and attempting to send them back up the field. With about twenty minutes left, Mexico’s Lourdes Gordillo fired a shot into the upper left corner of the TCU net. Nearly ten minutes later, Gordillo beat the TCU defense and keeper Michelson-Bartlett, passing the ball in for an easy fourth and final goal. The Horned Frogs ended the match with a great diving save by Michelson-Bartlett and one more shot at Mexico, with twenty-seven seconds remaining.
Horned Frog sophomore midfielder Kaylie Garcia, who trained with the Mexican team over the summer, showed no lack of physicality or drive playing against her summer teammates, as she led TCU in shot attempts. Taylor and junior midfielder Jackie Torda tied for the second most attempts on goal.
To the Horned Frogs, learning and experience was the name of the game. With 2,089 fans in the stands, some with purple frog flags and others with Mexican flags, the atmosphere was rife with competitiveness and pride.
“It was a great atmosphere, we got out of it what we needed to get out of it,” Abdalla said. “It was good for us to see that level of international experience. You’re not going to see any teams I think at the collegiate level that have that kind of composure.”
“It was a good game,” said Mexico midfielder Tania Morales. “TCU is a very good team.”
Although the score was 4-1, it’s not every day a college team gets to play a team who competes at the national and world stages.