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Texas Tech survives first round of tournament in dramatic fashion

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Once leading 2-0, the Red Raiders had to rely on the experience of their goal keeper to overcome a penalty shootout.

Texas Tech Media via @TexasTechSoccer

As the temperatures plummeted to the near-thirty mark, a sparse Red Raider crowd watched on as the teams positioned for penalty kicks. Texas Tech, who had a 2-0 lead at one point, were relentlessly barraged by a Pepperdine Waves team with their backs against the wall. Madison White stepped into the goal with 11 saves on the night. Pepperdine was able to squeeze three past her, while Tech missed their second attempt making it a 3-2 advantage Pepperdine. Red Raider Amanda Porter seized her moment and tied things back up. The crowd was quiet.

Pepperdine’s fourth player stepped forward to take her penalty: blocked by White! Texas Tech’s Luana Munoz, who didn’t step on the field during regulation, netted her attempt to put all the pressure on the Waves... and on the freshman goalkeeper sensation who stepped in midway through the season. Pepperdine’s player rocketed a shot to the top left of the goal, but White played it perfectly and punched the shot away. Texas Tech advances to the second round of the NCAA Tournament off a bitter-sweet penalty shootout, 2-2 regulation (4-3 penalty decision).

The victory makes it Texas Tech’s seventh second round appearance in program history. Earlier in the match a penalty shootout seemed as far away as the Sun is to Pluto. Not but four minutes into the game Penelope Mulenga found the ball outside of the box and elected to take a shot. The left-footed boot was too far for Pepperdine’s goalkeeper and Tech was up 1-0, giving Mulenga two scores on her career.

Not long after, Texas Tech earned a free kick outside of the box following an aggressive challenge on Demi Koulizakis. Jordie Harr lined up over the ball alongside Koulizakis, and calling her own number Harr took the free kick which sliced through the air for a goal. The 2-0 lead gave the Walker a palatable buzz. Harr has been electric in the past two games, netting a goal in each but more importantly being a force on the attack for Texas Tech.

Not long after the goal, Pepperdine’s goalkeeper went down after challenging a cross from a corner kick. From my perspective in the stands it appeared that the Waves had to commission a defender from their bench to stand in goal the remainder of the game - a near damning proposition against a team playing on fire. However, the two scores and the injured goal keeper woke up the Pepperdine team that beat No. 2 Stanford earlier this year. The barrage began.

In the 40th minute the Waves found a lane in Texas Tech’s third. Superior footwork and persistence gave their forward a crack shot that was too far wide for Madison White to save. The goal gave their team new life, and the hammering continued until that fortuitous half-time whistle sounded. The Waves started outpacing the Red Raiders in every category, and it didn’t relent in the second half. Despite a brief moment of offensive genius by Tech, Pepperdine’s defense clamped down hard the second half; not allowing a single shot in the second half.

Their offense, predicated on counter-attacking, was teeing off against our defense. Pepperdine recorded 21 shots (13 on goal) to Texas Tech’s 7 (3 on goal), and had their second goal come from a penalty after five minutes into the second half. Once leading 2-0, Texas Tech was tied up with Pepperdine and for all intents and purposes seemed like they would lose 2-4 or more with the way the Waves were attacking. Luckily for Coach Stone and company, Madison White is one of the best goal keepers in the nation.

White was named the Big 12’s Freshman of the Year for a reason, and there’s nobody within their right mind that would object. Three shots that Pepperdine had challenged White with were tipped over the bar by her going full extension; two of which were within minutes of each other. The overtime periods were somewhat of a saving grace against Pepperdine’s continued attacks, but that didn’t solve the issue of the stagnant Red Raider offense. Winning penalties put an end to a long night and Texas Tech is going forward to face Michigan in Chapel Hill, NC.

Texas Tech Media via @TexasTechSoccer

Michigan took down Bowling Green 2-1, but Texas Tech should have no problem if they get their offense on track again. The Pepperdine game was probably one of the more difficult opening rounds, and Stone acknowledged the fight in his team saying “When a young team in soccer is up 2-0 and gives up two, they could unravel. We didn’t unravel today. We stayed true to it. We saw overtime as a chance to win it, and then we saw penalties as a chance to win it. I think the most impressive thing here was we stayed resolute.” The team will have the week to recuperate before taking on Michigan either Friday or Sunday.