KANSAS CITY – A berth into the Big 12 Championship match rests in the balance Friday as fifth-seed Texas Tech prepares to face off against one-seed Baylor to begin the second weekend of postseason conference action in Kansas City.
Texas Tech earned its spot in the semi-finals last Sunday after downing TCU in penalty kicks. The Red Raiders grinded out 110 minutes on the pitch with the Horned Frogs, and despite the two teams rattling off a combined 31 shots between regulation and overtime, nothing found its way into the back of the net. It was the first time any current Red Raider had had to take penalty kicks – the last time a Tech game advanced to PKs was in the 2014 Big 12 Championship against Texas – but all five takers converted their chances to bring the team back to Kansas City for a second weekend.
Tech’s demonstrated ability to find any way to win when it matters most has instilled a strong confidence in the squad.
“We’re a resilient bunch,” Stone said. “We are a stubborn group. We train really hard and we’re not afraid of any opponent and we can play with anybody. We know that about ourselves now.”
That enhanced self-awareness has also allowed Tech to know where they fall short.
“If we hesitate and are on our back foot for a few minutes of a half, we look very average,” Stone said. “We don’t want to be in that category. The very few times that’s happened, it’s been a good wake-up call for us.”
One such example was at TCU on Oct. 19, where Tech fell, 2-0, after giving up two second-half goals. Sunday’s win over the Horned Frogs, though, brought upon a feeling similar to the one the Red Raiders hope to have Friday: the feeling of having played better soccer against a team the second time around when it really matters.
“We felt like we let ourselves down in Fort Worth, but we had total redemption and played great in the rematch,” said Stone.
Though the Red Raiders want to do the same again and redeem their mid-season loss to Baylor this weekend, the prevailing attitude amongst the team is one of self-preservation, not revenge.
“At this point it’s not just going to play a different Big 12 school at their place with their fans, but you’re going to Kansas City where it’s tournament time,” co-captain Carly Wickenheiser said. “It’s win-or-go-home. There’s a completely different level to it.”
First touch for Friday’s semi-final is set for 4:30 p.m. The match will be broadcast live on the Big 12 Network.