TCU soccer makes history: A look into their record season

first_imgEarly application submissions rise despite COVID-19 uncertainty Andre Giammatteihttps://www.tcu360.com/author/andre-giammattei/ ReddIt Facebook Previous articleHoroscope: November 16, 2020Next articleUniversity Recreation and Wellness Promotion Centers support students amid COVID-19 Andre Giammattei Twitter In-depth reportingSportsSoccerTop StoriesTCU soccer makes history: A look into their record seasonBy Andre Giammattei – November 16, 2020 2166 Twitter TCU News Now 4/14/2021 printLoading 50% TCU soccer makes history: A look into their record seasonAfter 34 years of waiting, the Horned Frogs achieved their first conference championship.By André GiammatteiThe TCU women’s soccer team celebrates their victory over West Virginia to clinch their first-ever Big 12 Championship. (Jack Wallace/Staff Photographer)The TCU women’s soccer team celebrates their victory over West Virginia to clinch their first-ever Big 12 Championship. (Jack Wallace/Staff Photographer) The clock is ticking down.The score is 1-0 ,and TCU soccer is 10 seconds away from its first conference championship. Fears of COVID-19 seemed forgotten as people crowd onto the benches and stand behind the goal outside the fence surrounding Garvey-Rosenthal Stadium. “TEN!” the crowd roars.West Virginia has the ball. Their precious time passes.“EIGHT!” TCU’s bench is ready to storm the field. Coach Eric Bell, who typically stands stoically on the sidelines with his arms folded, is a ball of energy — yelling to his players, waving his arms.“FIVE!”TCU recovers the ball and kicks it away as far as possible. The crowd is on its feet as the ball soars across the field. “THREE! TWO!” “ONE!”The referee blows the whistle. It’s over.Players jump, scream, laugh and cry. Fireworks explode into the night sky, and the Frog horn blares as TCU claims their first ever conference championship in soccer. “It’s a big step for our program, and I’m really proud of the group,” said Bell. “Being able to do it against West Virginia, who has been the perennial power since we’ve been in the league, I would not have had it any other way.” to the 2020 Big 12 soccer champion TCU Horned Frogs! pic.twitter.com/ytSYty78D9— Mark Cohen (@TCUCohen) November 7, 2020 It wasn’t just a dream #GoFrogs #Big12Champions pic.twitter.com/ckoWdVAovn— TCU Soccer (@TCUSoccer) November 7, 2020 Three’s not a crowd. It’s a squad. #SquadGoals #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/hfoPJTohIv— TCU Soccer (@TCUSoccer) November 3, 2020 How do you like our new banner? #GoFrogs | #Big12Champions pic.twitter.com/JYsAr7b6MT— TCU Soccer (@TCUSoccer) November 8, 2020 No matter what angle, it’s a beauty from Grace!!! #GoFrogs pic.twitter.com/1GCWQUGtbz— TCU Soccer (@TCUSoccer) November 7, 2020 What a night. So proud of this team @TCUSoccer #GoFrogs #TCUSoccer https://t.co/7ZRiSwl7AU— Jeremiah Donati (@JDonati_TCU) November 7, 2020 A pandemic seasonIn a season that only featured conference play because of the coronavirus pandemic, TCU was dominant, reaching new highs as a program. The Frogs achieved their highest ranking in school history.  United Soccer Coaches poll placed the team as No. 3 in the nation, behind perennial powerhouses No. 1 North Carolina and No. 2 Florida State.Talent, experience and a positive culture were key to TCU women’s soccer achieving their first Big 12 Championship, said Bell.After the season started with a scoreless draw in Waco against Baylor, eight straight victories followed, catapulting the Frogs to their first-ever undefeated season — another notch in the record books. A crucial part of TCU’s success on the field was its defensive prowess with clean sheets, holding their opponents from scoring in seven out of nine matches. Goalkeeper Emily Alvarado and defenders Tijana Duricek and Brandi Peterson started every game in the backline for the Frogs. Alvarado shined with her seven career shutouts this season, increasing her career total to 20. Another record: she’s the goalkeeper with most clean sheets in school history. “Emily’s a fantastic shot stopper,” said Bell. “We count on her to make one or two good saves a game.”Bell said Alvarado’s contributions extended beyond her performances at goal.“Her biggest jump this season has been her communication and her leadership at the back,” Bell said. “That’s been a huge thing for us.”Overall, Bell said the team also did a much better job at keeping possession of the ball.“If they don’t have the ball, they can’t score,” Bell said. “This year we’ve had the ball a lot more. We’re not giving up chances to the other teams, and that’s a credit to the entire team defending.”On the other end of the pitch, the midfielders and forwards in the starting lineup either scored or assisted at least once.Midfielders Gracie Brian and Payton Crews, a sophomore and junior, respectively, each tallied a team-high three assists, all while controlling the tempo through the possession of the ball.Grace Collins, a sophomore forward, was the revelation of the season. She stepped up and took on a larger role, leading the team in scoring with five goals, including game-winners in the last three matches. “I was so hungry to get better,” said Collins. “I really wanted to make an impact and help the team this season, and I am so happy I got to do that.”Bell said, “She played with an edge about herself that I think contributed to her success and ultimately our success.” Overcoming struggles and changesUnder Bell, TCU has become a regular contender in the Big 12.Bell signed as TCU’s head coach in 2012,  the Frogs’ first season in their new conference. That year, TCU finished with a 7-10-4 overall record and won only one game in conference play.Since then, the Frogs have seen significant improvement. They finished third in the Big 12 in both 2017 and 2018 and have finished runner-up in the Big 12 Tournament twice since 2017.On the other hand, making that final step to champion was elusive.Fueled by depth and pride, TCU went against all odds and advanced all the way to the Big 12 Championship in 2019. Nevertheless, their dreams were crushed in the final, falling to No. 21 Kansas 0-1.That was enough to get the Frogs a ticket to the NCAA Tournament — their fourth consecutive appearance — but they fell to Arizona in their first round matchup.Entering the 2020 season, TCU adjusted and changed its formation and style of play. After playing with a 4-4-2 diamond formation during the past couple of years, Bell opted instead for a 4-3-3 with a deep-lying playmaker and explosiveness on the wings.“As we looked at the makeup of our group, this shape fit us the best,” said Bell. “We have weapons all over the place.”The COVID-19 pandemic, with its recommendations and rules about social distancing, complicated things before the season even started. TCU also faced both suspensions and injuries. Captain Yazmeen Ryan suffered an injury that would prevent her from playing the final game against West Virginia.On the other hand, TCU did finish the season without a single positive COVID-19 test, perhaps their biggest accomplishment of the year.“We talked about it at the beginning of the year – what we wanted, what were our goals and what our expectations were – and everyone committed and bought into the process, and now we’re here,” said Alvarado. “I can’t think of another team that deserved it more than mine,” she said. “The dedication and the passion these girls showed every single day made my job easier.”2020 TCU Soccer Starting LineupInfogram The starting 11 for the final game of the season at Garvey Rosenthal Stadium. (Jack Wallace/Staff Photographer) The starting 11 for the final game of the season at Garvey Rosenthal Stadium. (Jack Wallace/Staff Photographer) Coach Eric Bell has reshaped TCU soccer and set up the Frogs for years of success. (Jack Wallace/Staff Photographer)Coach Eric Bell has reshaped TCU soccer and set up the Frogs for years of success. (Jack Wallace/Staff Photographer) Looking aheadNow that they’ve claimed a title, the Frogs have to prove they can maintain that level of play. Bell said he thinks this season has prepared the team for what’s to come.“The more games that we won, the more it feels like the NCAA Tournament, because if you lose, it hurts your opportunity to win the conference championship,” he said.The conference championship marked the end of TCU soccer for the fall, but now, the Frogs will work to make a run at the NCAA Championship set to take place in the spring. “Now the team can refer back to championship moments and when things get tough, they now know they can weather the storm,” said Bell. “They’re champions and they can play like that against anybody in the country.”Most importantly, the program seems poised to continue growing beyond this season.“When I first got here, that’s all we talked about — winning a Big 12 Championship,” said Collins. “Just to have that come true only my second season is so amazing, and I’m so excited for our future.” “Ever since I got here, we have taken huge strides forward,” said Alvarado. “Now that we’re able to consistently beat top teams in the nation, that’s our new standard.”  TopBuilt with Shorthand Andre Giammatteihttps://www.tcu360.com/author/andre-giammattei/ TCU places second in the National Student Advertising Competition, the highest in school history RELATED ARTICLESMORE FROM AUTHOR Former Fort Worth, TCU Police Department officer dies of COVID-19 and on-duty injury complications Linkedin Cap and gown shipments delayed, off-color versions handed out for 2020, 2021 graduates Facebook Andre Giammatteihttps://www.tcu360.com/author/andre-giammattei/ + posts ReddIt Andre Giammatteihttps://www.tcu360.com/author/andre-giammattei/ The College of Science and Engineering Dean, Phil Hartman, retires after 40 consecutive years Linkedin Andre Giammattei World Oceans Day shines spotlight on marine plastic pollution TCU News Now 4/1/2021 TCU changes providers as students cut the cable cordlast_img