On October 22nd, the TCU soccer team’s postseason chances were looking bleak. The team had just lost the night before 3-0 and were sitting near the bottom of the Big 12 Conference. Despite getting off to the best start in school history and going undefeated in non-conference play, the team had struggled in conference games and had yet to win one. With two games remaining on the year against the other two teams at the bottom, TCU knew they had to buckle down and get it done, or else they would be in danger of not making the Big 12 Tournament, let alone the NCAA Tournament.
TCU bounced back the next day, beating Texas Tech 1-0 at home on a second-half goal by Brittany Little. The Horned Frogs defense had won the day, limiting the Red Raiders to just one shot on goal. TCU carried that confidence into their final Big 12 regular season game against Texas. The game was back-and-forth all night but the Frogs came away with a 3-2 victory, knocking the Longhorns out of the Big 12 tournament and clinching the 7th seed for TCU.
TCU arrived in Kansas City knowing that if they wanted to have a chance to make it to the NCAA Tournament, they would have to find a way to knock off some teams. They entered the tournament ranked 50th in the nation in RPI. Despite their stellar non-conference resume, it was hard to envision making it to the NCAA Tournament as an at-large with an RPI ranking in the 50s and being 7th in the conference.
This past Wednesday, the Horned Frogs opened the Big 12 Tournament against the 2nd-seeded Kansas Jayhawks. The Jayhawks were ranked 24th in the nation in the NSCAA Coaches Poll and 20th in RPI. In the regular season, Kansas had gotten the better of TCU, 2-1, in Fort Worth. Now, it was the Frogs turn to knock off Kansas near their home. After playing through a scoreless first half, TCU found the back of the net with junior Allison Ganter’s 7th goal of the season.
#Big12SOC: Allison Ganter scores early in the second half to put No. 7 @TCUSoccer up 1-0 over No. 2 @KUWSoccer. https://t.co/xVPGdcnYsq— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) November 3, 2016
The lone goal would prove to be what the Frogs needed, as freshman goalkeeper Katie Lund and the TCU defense shut out the Jayhawks. Despite this 1-0 victory over highly-ranked Kansas, it was hard to tell whether this would be enough to earn the Horned Frogs an at-large bid. They needed to do more.
This brings us to last night. TCU was matched up with the 3rd-seeded Baylor Bears in the semifinals of the Big 12 Tournament. Baylor was coming off of a 1-0 victory over Oklahoma State. The Bears were able to get out to a 2-0 halftime lead and things were not looking good for TCU; however, the Frogs were not quite done.
With 19 minutes to go in the game, Ganter was able to convert a PK bringing the deficit to one. Less than two minutes later, sophomore Faith Carter scored off of a corner kick to tie the game, her 7th goal of the season. The Frogs, with all of the momentum on their side, would keep pushing for a winner but couldn’t find one before the clock ran out.
TCU was able to keep up the momentum into OT, and seven minutes in came this fantastic moment:
#Big12SOC: Meghan Murphy scores the golden goal for @TCUSoccer in overtime for the win. https://t.co/c538e6v08p— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) November 5, 2016
The game-winner was scored by senior Meghan Murphy. It was her 6th career goal and her 3rd career game-winner.
So that’s how we got here. TCU has won four straight games and is now set to take on the #1 ranked team in the nation, the West Virginia Mountaineers. The ‘eers enter the game riding a 11-game winning streak and a 10-game shutout streak. Their last ten games have been all against Big 12 opponents meaning that no Big 12 team has scored on West Virginia this year. They have outscored Big 12 opponents 20-0 this season on their way to their #1 national ranking.
The Frogs lost at home to West Virginia 3-0 a few weeks ago, but have been on a roll ever since. There is a lot riding on this game, and it is hands-down the biggest game for the program since joining the Big 12 Conference. Since the RPI rankings have not been updated to reflect the tournament wins over Kansas and Baylor, it is hard to gauge the likelihood of the Frogs making the NCAA Tournament as an at-large if they are to lose tomorrow. Winning the game is a mighty task, but one that the team has the talent to do. Make sure to watch tomorrow to see if the team can get their biggest win in program history and earn an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since joining the Big 12 and the first time under head coach Eric Bell.
The game can be watched on Fox Sports 1 at 2:30PM CT.