Sweet 16 bound! TCU Soccer has advanced to the third round of the NCAA Division I championship tournament for the first time in program history after defeating New Mexico 6-2 on Friday night.
As dominant as the final score may seem, this game was incredibly competitive up until the second half kickoff. It may be hard to believe, but TCU actually trailed 1-0 in this game for the majority of the first half.
Considering the Horned Frogs play with a possession-first mindset, the Lobos did an excellent job of applying pressure early forcing some bad passes in the midfield and overall frustrating the team in purple and white.
Generally speaking, TCUs first half performance was unlike anything I had seen from this unit all season. It was almost like I could sense the team’s nerves through the bummy Vimeo stream (because for some reason the championship tournament isn’t on TV but whatever), but they didn’t last long.
When the Lobos tallied their first goal, the Frogs were trailing on the overall shot count as well (5-3) but quickly turned that around with a few dangerous counter-attacks from Yazmeen Ryan and Grace Collins to end the first half with a 10-8 lead on shots.
Not to single out the officiating, but there was a moment at the end of the first half where Yazmeen Ryan was tackled from behind while dribbling in the box and nothing was called. A textbook penalty kick in my books, yet not even a booking was given.
A few missed opportunities never got the Frogs down. Considering this team was 2-1 on the year when conceding the first goal of the game heading into tonight, there was never a sense of panic from the players nor head coach Eric Bell.
I have no idea what was said in the locker room at halftime, but I assume it was a legendary hype speech worthy of a Hollywood rendition because my god the Frogs came out fiery in the second half. When I say fiery I mean like pedal to the metal, not stopping for anyone or anything kind of fiery.
Coach Bell wouldn’t reveal all of his secrets (respect), but he still gave some insight into the tactical changes that sparked a six-goal explosion: “We are a good team, and like any other good team we had to challenge them to be better than they were in the first half, and they answered that challenge,” said Bell. “They came out and took care of business against a worthy opponent.”
Indeed they did Mr. Bell, indeed they did. TCU scored six goals in a game for the first time since facing Sam Houston State in 2019, and they did it all in the second half. What’s even harder to fathom is the fact that four of the six goals were scored in a span lasting only 4:25 seconds.
As I was live tweeting updates throughout the game, the Frogs were scoring goals faster than I could type — I have never seen anything like it in collegiate soccer.
The Frogs opened their array of goals with a 47th minute equalizer from Messiah Bright, and not even 60 seconds later they took a 2-1 lead thanks to a sensational strike from Grace Collins.
New Mexico didn’t even have time to process the fact that they were losing by the time the Frogs scored again. Grace Collins was hungry for more, scoring her second goal of the contest and eighth of the season to put the Frogs up 3-1 in the 51st minute.
This is starting to feel redundant, but yes, the Frogs scored AGAIN just seconds later. This time Payton Crews delivered the strike to tally her first goal of the 2020/2021 campaign.
There was some give and take here and there, but overall TCU was in complete control of the ball game for a large portion of the final 45. If I was a coach or player on one of the remaining teams in the Sweet 16 and I saw this thrashing from the Frogs, I would be scared for my life. The Frogs are a special unit, proven by their second half rally this evening.
After a short 23 minute goalless drought, freshmen midfielder Avery Barron tallied her first collegiate goal to put the Frogs up 5-1 in the 74th minute.
The Horned Frogs ended their downpour of goals in the 79th minute as Maddy Warren scored her second goal of the season, assisted by Tatum Condrey.
To keep up with the modern times, I’d like to describe the Horned Frogs second half performance with one simple word: “SHEEEEEEESH.”
TCU finished the game leading 21-12 in shots and 11-5 in shots on target. There were an astounding 20 fouls in the ballgame, and over half of them are credited to the Lobos (13).
TCU will take on the winner of No. 13 Georgetown and South Carolina in the Sweet 16 on May 5 at 5 p.m. CST.