Texas Tech will kick off its 21st season of soccer Sunday evening when the BR16-ranked Red Raiders host Oral Roberts in a 7 p.m. start at the John Walker Soccer Complex. The match will open the 2014-15 athletics season for Texas Tech as it will be the first event to start the new school year.
TEXAS TECH ALL-TIME IN SEASON OPENERS
The Red Raiders enter Sunday evening riding a six-match winning streak in season openers following a 1-0 victory over New Mexico a year ago. The victory improved Texas Tech to 12-8 all-time in season openers, including a 6-1 mark under eighth-year head coach Tom Stone. During its six-match winning streak, Tech is out-scoring opponents, 16-1, in season openers with the lone goal coming in 2012 by Idaho. This will be the sixth time in the past seven seasons where the Red Raiders, who are 9-3 all-time in home season openers, have begun at the friendly confines of the John Walker Soccer Complex. Tech and Oral Roberts have met twice previously in season openers, splitting a pair of matches in 2003 (3-0 ORU) and 2004 (6-2 Tech).
INSIDE THE ORAL ROBERTS SERIES
Texas Tech will be meeting Oral Roberts on Sunday for the ninth time in school history on the soccer pitch. The Red Raiders are 5-3 all-time against the Golden Eagles with wins in three of the past four meetings between the two schools. This is the fifth time Oral Roberts has traveled to Lubbock to face the Red Raiders, who enter Sunday’s contest a perfect 4-0 when hosting the Golden Eagles. Tech is 2-0 against Oral Roberts under head coach Tom Stone thanks to a 4-0 rout on Sept. 18, 2008, and a 1-0 shutout victory on Sept. 12, 2010. The two schools have opened a season against each other twice previously with Oral Roberts pulling off a 3-0 victory in 2013 before Tech responded with a 6-2 win a year later.
RED RAIDERS LEAD THE BIG 12 FOR VICTORIES OVER LAST TWO SEASONS
Winning has pretty much become contagious for the Red Raiders the past two seasons under Tom Stone. During that stretch, Texas Tech has recorded 34 victories and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship in both seasons. This is the winningest stretch for the Red Raiders in school history as Tech won 16 matches in 2012 and then followed up with a school-record 18 victories a year ago. That success has made Tech the winningest Big 12 program the past two seasons as the Red Raiders lead all league opponents in victories as Baylor has recorded 30 wins while West Virginia has combined for 27 in third place.
TEXAS TECH IN THE NATIONAL RANKINGS
For the second-straight season, Texas Tech appeared in each of the collegiate soccer preseason polls, starting 2014 ranked #16 on HeroSports and debuting at No. 17 in the NSCAA/Continental Tire rankings. The Red Raiders were also among the top-25 in two other polls, coming in at No. 15 by TopDrawerSoccer.com and No. 22 by Soccer America. This is the highest preseason ranking in school history for the Red Raiders, who opened the 2013 season ranked 24th by the NSCAA. Tech closed the 2013 season ranked 17th in the NSCAA poll, its highest postseason ranking in school history.
RED RAIDERS PICKED SECOND IN BIG 12 PRESEASON POLL
Following the best season in school history, Texas Tech was picked to once again finish second in the Big 12 Preseason Poll released earlier this summer. This is the second-straight season where the Red Raiders have been slotted in second place by the conference coaches. Tech followed through with its 2013 preseason prediction as the Red Raiders finished 6-0-2 in Big 12 play, ending the year a point back of preseason favorite West Virginia for the Big 12 regular season title.
RED RAIDERS RETURN BULK OF SCORING FROM 2013
Texas Tech returns over 70 percent of its scoring from the 2013 season where the Red Raiders totaled 48 goals, their most in a season since 1996. Underclassmen contributed most of that scoring as 35 of Tech’s 48 goals came from freshmen or sophomores. Janine Beckie led all Red Raiders with 12 goals which ranked among the Big 12 leaders at the conclusion of the year. She was followed by fellow sophomores Alli Murphy and Briana Rohmer who connected on five goals each as well as Caity Heap who was tied for fourth on the team with four goals.
DEFENSE, DEFENSE, DEFENSE
While the Red Raiders have become known for their offense the past several years, it was their effort on the defensive end last season that boosted the Red Raiders to an 18-2-3 season and another trip to the NCAA Tournament. The Red Raiders posted a school-record 17 shutouts in 2013, ranking second nationally for shutout percentage and third for goals-against average after allowing only nine goals all season. Tech shut out 17 of its 23 opponents on the year for a .739 shutout percentage. Tech’s nine goals allowed matched the Big 12 record for fewest in a season that previously belonged to Oklahoma State from 2011.
WATSON LOOKS FOR FIRST CAREER START IN GOAL
Following the departure of Victoria Esson due to graduation, Tom Stone knew he would have big shoes to fill in goal, especially after Esson recorded a banner year as a senior when Tech ranked second nationally in shutout percentage and third for goals-against average. Sophomore goalkeeper Lauren Watson will likely get the first opportunity to continue that defensive dominance Sunday evening when it is expected she will earn the start in goal against Oral Roberts. Watson played in all 90 minutes last weekend when Tech defeated No. 25 Denver, 2-1, in its lone exhibition match of the preseason. She played in two matches last season after redshirting the 2012 season.