With the baseball season coming to an end and the Track & Field calendar wrapping up at the end of this month, the 2021/2022 TCU Athletics year is coming to a close.
We’ve got a long offseason of new signings, rumors, and “what-ifs” to look forward to this summer across all sports, but for now, let’s take a step back and look at what all this University accomplished in the past year.
From a march madness win in basketball to an elite 8 appearance by the Men’s Tennis squad, Horned Frog fans were (deservedly) spoiled this year.
In this new series, we’ll be going sport by sport recapping how each TCU team faired in their most recent season. To make things easier, we’ll be publishing these in chronological order over the course of the next couple of weeks.
Considering that spring sports like baseball are still fresh in everyone’s minds, a nice refresher on the fall sports accomplishments may do some good.
First things first, let’s break down the fall TCU Soccer season.
It’s no secret that this group has made a name for themselves on campus over the past few years. With six straight NCAA tournament appearances and back-to-back Big 12 titles, not only has TCU Soccer blossomed into one of the best teams on campus, they’ve made a case to be considered one of collegiate soccer’s blue-blood programs nationwide.
After losing Emily Alvarado and Yazmeen Ryan to the pros after the program-best 2020 season, there were some question marks regarding whether or not the Frogs could maintain their level of play without two key contributors.
Those slight concerns didn’t last more than five games once the season kicked off, as the Frogs toppled their opponents 18-1 on aggregate including wins over then-No. 9 Texas A&M and then-No. 20 Pittsburgh on the road.
The early success was largely thanks to some new faces lighting up the scoreboard at Garvey-Rosenthal. Freshmen forward Camryn Lancaster and midfielder Oli Pena began the season as spark plugs off the bench but quickly found themselves in the regular starting 11 thanks to their constant on-field contributions.
Pena’s vision and accuracy combined with Lancaster’s playmaking ability and fancy footwork in the attacking third was a perfect addition to head coach Eric Bell’s system.
Notre Dame transfer Jenna Winebrenner also played a key role, serving as the rock in the Frog’s back line throughout her lone year in Fort Worth. Her All-Region caliber performance last season was enough to send her to the pros, as Winebrenner is now a member of the KC Current in the NWSL.
Not to forget Lauren Kellett, who picked up right where Emily Alvarado left off in her first year as the starter. The Sting Soccer Club product finished the year averaging 3.3 saves per game, an 87.2% save percentage, all while only allowing 10 goals in 22 games.
Of course, the newcomers and new regulars played a vital role this past season, but Gracie Brian, Messiah Bright, Brandi Peterson, and Grace Collins were in a league of their own.
As the returning stars of the team, a big year was expected for the group that’s been playing together since 2019, and that’s exactly what we saw.
All four of them were All-Big 12 selections with Peterson taking home defensive player of the year. Brian, Bright, and Peterson also earned All-Region nods while Bright and Peterson were selected as All-Americans.
Already racking up the honors and recognitions, Messiah Bright almost brought home the granddaddy of them all. She finished as a semifinalist for the MAC Hermann Trophy after posting an absurd stat line: 14 goals, 6 assists, a 51.1% shots on goal percentage, and 4 game-winners.
These are a few of the many honors and accolades TCU Soccer took home after last season. I could write a separate article entirely on how full the Frogs’ trophy case is, but for now, I’ll do my best to cover each and every honor from the 2021 season.
Honors & Awards
All-Big 12 1st Team
- Lauren Kellett, Brandi Peterson, Messiah Bright, Gracie Brian, Jenna Winebrenner
All-Big 12 2nd Team
- Payton Crews, Grace Collins
All-Big 12 Freshmen Team
- Camryn Lancaster, Oli Pena, Brenna Brosam
Big 12 Goalkeeper of the year
- Lauren Kellett
Big 12 Defender of the year
- Brandi Peterson
Big 12 Coach of the year
- Eric Bell (Reached 100 wins)
All-Midwest Region 1st team
- Gracie Brian, Messiah Bright, Lauren Kellett, Brandi Peterson, Jenna Winebrenner
Midwest Region staff of the year
- TCU Coaching staff
All-American 1st team
- Messiah Bright
All-American 2nd team
- Brandi Peterson
- Gracie Brian, Brandi Peterson
And this is excluding the countless Player of the Week nominations the Frogs picked up along the way. Pure domination.
TCU Soccer is good, we know this. It’s evident based on the grocery list of awards above and their Sweet 16 appearance, but how exactly did the Frogs get to that point?
After starting the season 7-0 with two ranked wins, the Frogs were battle-tested at home against a well-oiled Pepperdine team. The Waves are a tournament-caliber team and proved it by handing the Frogs their first loss 1-0 in early September.
This was the start of an interesting stretch for the Frogs, as they dropped another game to Baylor 2-1 and drew with Texas 1-1 all within a three-game span. Not the worst results in the world, but questionable for a team of TCU’s caliber.
Turns out there was no need to fear, as the Frogs bounced back with seven straight wins by a combined score of 16-3 to close out the regular season.
Finishing with a 7-1-1 conference record, the Big 12 regular season belonged to the Frogs for the second straight season. Although this year, the Frogs took it a step further by winning to Big 12 tournament as well.
As the No. 1 seed in the conference tourney, the Frogs met Iowa State, Texas Tech, and Texas along the way. A PK-shootout win over the Cyclones, a shutout against the Red Raiders, and a come-from-behind win over the Longhorns saw the Frogs hoisting the trophy.
After an outstanding season, the Frogs were slotted as the No. 4 national seed in the NCAA Championship Tournament where they took on Prarie View A&M in the first round.
7 months later, and yes, I’m still salty the Frogs weren’t given a higher seed considering their path to the final four went through 1-seed Rutgers. Regardless, the Frogs are the last team I could think of to back down from a challenge.
TCU opened the tournament by cruising to an 8-0 win over Prarie View A&M. The smooth sailing came to an abrupt end in round 2 as the Princeton Tigers came to play. It took until the second period of overtime, but Messiah Bright topped off her hat trick with a game-winning goal to send TCU through to the Sweet 16.
Of course, as the 4-seed, this is where things got really tough.
It was a hard-fought battle, but in the end, the Frogs fell in one of the most heartbreaking ways possible. After trailing 1-0 for the majority of the game, TCU found the equalizer in the 86th minute to send things into OT.
Two extra 10-minute periods weren’t enough to settle the stalemate, as the Frogs would eventually go down 5-4 in the SEVENTH round of penalty kicks. Absolutely gutwrenching after what was looking to be an epic comeback.
With the loss, TCU’s overall record for 2021 finished at 19-2-3.
All-in-all, the Frogs should be proud of a Sweet 16 appearance. Before last year’s Elite 8 appearance, the Frogs had never made it out of the 2nd round. The fact that the loss felt like a letdown really showcases how far this program has come in recent years.
It was a hell of a season, and you bet your butt the Horned Frogs will be back to make another NCAA Tournament splash this fall.
The Frogs lost Jenna Winebrenner, Brandi Peterson, Maddy Warren, and Grace Collins this offseason, which really isn’t too bad all things considered. Chaylyn Hubbard, Messiah Bright, and Payton Crews are staying on board as graduate students and making use of their extra year of NCAA eligibility thanks to COVID, so the majority of the roster is staying intact.
If you know Eric Bell, then you know he’s a mastermind when it comes to recruiting. Not everything is set in stone quite yet, but expect to see some new faces on the pitch in the fall.
The 2022 TCU Soccer schedule has yet to be announced, but expect game 1 to take place in mid-to-late August.