Texas Tech soccer began its quest for a sixth-straight NCAA Tournament appearance Wednesday.
Eleven newcomers practiced for the first time for head coach Tom Stone, who enters his 11th season with the program.
“Some of the bigger named kids came to play today,” Stone said. “Kirsten Davis doesn’t look like a freshman, Alexandria Griffin doesn’t look like a freshman and Kamyrn Birk is as fit as anybody we’ve got. We are excited about this freshman class.“
Griffin was the top-ranked high school player in Texas and scored a school-record 49 goals for Southlake Carroll last season.
She’s one of the many players who Stone hopes can help a Texas Tech offense that managed to score just one goal in its final eight matches.
“Hopefully we are going to look better on the offensive end,” Stone said. “Two things happen when you bring in two goal scorers like Allie Griffin, one of the best forwards in the country, and Kirsten Davis, who was the Gatorade Player of the Year in Missouri and National Team forward. When you bring those two in you get some class up front but it also alerts the ones that were here already you better keep up.”
After three seasons with Lauren Watson in goal, junior Carrisa Christensen and freshman Marissa Zucchetto battle to replace the all-Big 12 first team goalkeeper.
“We’ve got competition now,” Stone said. “It’s going to be fun to watch them push each other.”
Nineteen Red Raiders return from last year’s squad including all-Big 12 second team midfielder Gwennie Puente, who says the team is ready to improve on last year’s first round loss to Utah in the NCAA Tournament.
“Last season we didn’t end the way we wanted,” Puente said. “So we just want to fight back and continue fighting through the whole season.”
Texas Tech travels to Denver for an exhibition game against the Pioneers at 7 p.m. on August 12.
The Red Raiders open the season at 5 p.m. on August 18 against Grand Canyon University in the Lobo Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico.