With four Big 12 conference matches left on the schedule, the Texas Tech soccer team knows what needs to be done.
But that proposition will be difficult even at home against a stout Oklahoma State squad.
The Red Raiders (8-5-1 overall, 1-3-1 Big 12), who are in the midst of a three-match losing streak, host the No. 25-ranked Cowgirls at 7 p.m. Friday in a Big 12 contest at the John Walker Soccer Complex.
“It’s been a rough couple of games, but we’re trying to stay positive. … We’re just waiting for all of those puzzle pieces to come together,” Texas Tech junior defender Cassie Boren said. “At this point, we’re just kind of a in mode of desperation. That’s a term that the coaches have used. And I think that it’s a great thing to focus on because we are. We’re desperate. OSU is coming in this weekend. They’re, pretty much, guaranteed a spot in the postseason. And we’re going to have that edge over them, being desperate and needing these three points.”
Texas Tech, which is hosting the Oklahoma State for the second straight season, is looking to earn its first victory over the Cowgirls since Oct. 26, 2012. In those five contests, the Red Raiders have dropped two matches and finished with three draws.
On top of that the Cowgirls are on a roll, winning four of their last five matches and tied atop the Big 12 standings with No. 8 West Virginia.
“It’s been good. We know what we’re up against,” Stone said. “We know these guys are having a great season, they’re rolling. Everything they seem to do works. Their postseason is pretty much secured. But, in our case, we had a choice to get down about a couple of results we didn’t like or just stay the course. So far, the girls have had a great attitude and understand what we’ve got to get done for the rest of the season.”
After scoring 19 total goals in its first 12 matches, the Red Raiders have been shutout in their past two contests.
Of those goals, freshman Ally Griffin and Kirsten Davis have combined for nine. Griffin, a former Southlake Carroll standout, leads the team with five goals this season.
Opponents, on the hand, have outscored the Red Raiders 4-0 in those previous two contests.
“We’ve been practicing a lot on, like, clearing balls and getting them out. And not getting scored on easily,” said Texas Tech junior defender Brooke Denesik, who has been a part of six shutouts this season. “So that’s been a big priority for us these past few weeks.”
Keeping the ball out of the net could prove challenging against Oklahoma State, which comes into Friday night’s showdown scoring a conference-best 35 goals — including nine during Big 12 play.
The attack has been dynamic as 12 different Cowgirls have put the ball in the back of the net, highlighted by Haley Woodard and Taylor Olson who each have netted six goals apiece.
Red Raiders goalies Carissa Christensen and Marissa Zuchetto — who have split time between the pipes in the first and second half, respectively, this season — will attempt to slow down the Oklahoma State scoring attack. The duo has combined for 40 saves — Christensen, who has started 14 matches, has notched 23 saves.
“We’ve been practicing a lot on, like, clearing balls and getting them out. And not getting scored on easily,” Denesik said. “So that’s been a big priority for us these past few weeks.”
The Red Raiders rank seventh in the conference standings, accumulating four points to this point. Texas Tech has a chance to move up in the standings with positive results as its next two contests are against the second (Oklahoma State) and first-place (No. 8 West Virginia) teams in the Big 12.
“When we play with urgency, we’re a good team,” Denesik said. “We’re a great team, honestly. It all depends on how we play and how we come out. And what our attitude is. It’s all based on us. … If we come out with urgency and desperation, then we’re good.”
Just the Facts
Records: Texas Tech 8-5-1 overall, 1-3-1 Big 12, No. 25 Oklahoma State 11-2-2, 4-1-0
Last match: Baylor def. Texas Tech 3-0
Last meeting: Oklahoma State def. Texas Tech 1-0 in Lubbock, Oct. 7, 2016
— Carlos Silva Jr., A-J Media