The #15 TCU Horned Frogs soccer team began its defense of the Big 12 Championship Trophy on Sunday night in the Quarterfinals of the conference tournament in Round Rock, TX. TCU is the 2-seed in the tournament and had an opening round matchup with a Kansas Jayhawk squad it defeated 1-0 in Lawrence back in September. The scoreline would not be so close this time as the Horned Frogs flexed its set-piece prowess, scoring 4 of the 5 goals outside the run of play.
TCU Coach Eric Bell had to look to his bench early, as Grace Coppinger had to be subbed off with an injury, calling on Sarah Melcher to fill in. Melcher didn’t just take over for Coppinger, she took over the game. Moments after entering the field, and just 9 minutes into the game, Melcher was on the score sheet as the AJ Hennessey corner kick found a rising Gracie Brian in the box whose redirected header made it to Melcher right in front of goal for the opening score of the game, and her first as a Horned Frog
Another 15 minutes into the first half, AJ Hennessey drew a foul on the left wing to earn a free kick in the attacking zone. Payton Crews delivered a brilliant free kick entry to the back post where Melcher was again in perfect position to hammer a powerful header past the Jayhawk Keeper to put the Frogs up a pair
TCU continued on the attack with the lead, as Kennedy Clountz took on a Kansas defender one-on-one in the box, bursting past the momentary obstacle. Upon getting beaten, the Jayhawk attempted a slide tackle that was far too late, tripping Clountz on the way to the goal, giving TCU a penalty kick. Clountz was given the opportunity to convert it herself, stepping to the spot and smashes it low and left past the diving Goalkeeper to put the Frogs ahead 3-0. Clountz appeared to have another goal, knocking in a perfect cross, but the officials determined the ball had just crossed the endline prior to the entry pass, wiping the score off the board
The erased goal was no matter, as the Horned Frog pressure continued in the 2nd Half as a goal kick was intercepted and headed forward to Gracie Brian who slid the leading pass to Messiah Bright who took a touch and released a strike into the net for her 10th goal of the season, giving her a 3rd season in her career with double digit goals
The teams would exchange goals in the final minutes, as defender Dana Reed scored her first goal as a Horned Frog off a Seven Castain corner kick in the 88th minute. Kansas got one back a minute later with some nifty moves from the forward in the box to create enough space from Megan Reilly and deposit one top shelf to erase the shutout.
The Horned Frogs advance to the Semifinals of the Big 12 Championship tournament where they will have a chance to avenge the only conference loss this season, taking on the 6-seed Oklahoma Sooners on Thursday November 3 at 7:00 PM on ESPN+. The Sooners took down 3-seed Texas Tech late Sunday night, breaking the scoreless tie with just seconds remaining in regulation. The winner of Thursday’s TCU-OU contest will get the winner of Texas-WVU in the Finals on Sunday November 6th.