TCU Soccer is set to make a program-first Sweet 16 appearance this evening as they take on the No. 13 seed Georgetown Hoyas.
The Horned Frogs turned some heads in their last contest, scoring six goals in the second half to erase a 1-0 halftime deficit vs New Mexico. As big of a momentum boost as that might be, the Hoyas are riding a wave of their own right now.
Georgetown won their second round game against South Carolina with a sensational 90th minute goal from Jenna Menta; only 52 seconds were left in regulation. That’s one hell of a way to win an NCAA tourney game, but golly my heart goes out to all the South Carolina players and fans; that must have been brutal.
The Hoyas enter this third-round matchup ranked No. 12 according to TopDrawSoccer and the United Soccer Coaches Poll with an unbeaten record of 12-0-1 (including postseason). The Big East regular season champions only blemish on the path to a perfect regular season was a 0-0 double-overtime tie with Providence on the road.
The Horned Frogs will be looking to make history tonight by advancing to the Elite 8 and securing their first multi-win NCAA tournament appearance in program history while the Hoyas will look to build off their incredible postseason past.
“This means everything. We’ve been talking about making it to this stage and even beyond that for a very long time so now that we are here and fighting for a spot in the Elite 8 is a testament to all the hard work that everyone on this team has put in,” said senior goalkeeper Emily Alvarado.
Whereas TCU is 2-4 all-time in the tournament after Friday’s win, the navy and grey are 13-8-4 in 10 tournament appearances with FOUR Sweet 16 appearances in the last decade (2010, 2016, 2018). They’ve reached the College Cup in both 2016 and 2018, so they are no strangers to the pressures that come with playing in the later rounds.
“I have a lot of respect for him [Dave Nolan] and his staff and their program. They’re a hard working group and they play really good soccer,” said head coach Eric Bell.
Coach Bell said that he expects this matchup to be a physical, possession-oriented game like it was against New Mexico, but one of the differences and keys in the Georgetown game will be limiting set pieces. In order to do so, fouls must be kept to a minimum.
Georgetown may have the edge on TCU from a historical standpoint, but this is one hell of a matchup on paper.
Let’s start with the matchup between two of the top goalkeepers in the country, shall we? Georgetown keeper Alyssa Navarrete ranks first in the country in goals against average (0.152) and ninth for save percentage (0.889) while TCU’s Emily Alvarado ranks fourth nationally with a save percentage of 0.897.
The Hoyas are also No. 1 in the country when it comes to shutout percentage (0.769) and goals against average (0.243) while the Horned Frogs sit at 13th in each category.
Both TCU and Georgetown are top-45 in scoring offense and both teams are coming off regular season conference titles. A true Goliath vs Goliath situation, if you will.
Now that I’ve laid out all the relevant statistics for tonight’s matchup, part of me is surprised to see the Horned Frogs are favored as the higher seed, but the other part of me knows damn well they’ve earned it.
With five straight NCAA tournament appearances, a first-ever national seeding (No. 4) in the postseason, and an opportunity to advance to the Elite 8 — TCU is nearing that “Blue Blood” status coach Bell has harped on all year.
“When they show those graphics of the UNCs and the Florida States and all these other teams that have produced all these players in the league; we want to be in that conversation as well,” said Bell. “It’s going to take some time, but we’ll get there.”
With five consecutive postseason appearances and now two NWSL draft picks in the last five years, the Frogs’ are certainly on their way.
After a six-goal performance last time out, coach Bell said he is extremely confident in his forwards for tonight’s contest.
“Our front line is dynamic as anyone in the country with Grace [Collins], Messiah [Bright], and Yazmeen [Ryan]. Those three alone are going to wreak havoc against opposing back lines,” said Bell. “Teams are going to have to figure out how to shut those three players down in a single game which I think is quite challenging.”
Challenging is definitely one word for it, but I would go as far to say that this group is near impossible to defend. The attacking trio has combined for 19 of the Horned Frogs’ 29 goals this season and will look to make another big splash tonight vs Georgetown.
Today’s game will be played at Wakemed Field #2 in Cary, North Carolina at 5 p.m. CST. For some ridiculous and obnoxious reason unbeknownst to me, the game won’t be televised yet again. To follow along with the Horned Frogs live, you can catch a live stream here or follow along on Twitter (@FrogsOWar) as we live-tweet updates throughout the game.
The winner of tonight’s contest will advance to the Elite 8 to take on the winner of Rice and Virginia, two teams that upset national seeds to reach the Sweet 16. The hopeful Elite 8 matchup will take place on May 9th at 4:00 p.m. CST.