TCU Scores Upset Over No. 14 West Virginia
Oct. 31, 2012
SAN ANTONIO - A goal in each half was all the TCU Horned Frogs needed as they upset the 14th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers in the quarterfinals of the Big 12 Conference Tournament. Vittoria Arnold made six saves in her seventh shutout of the season.
"It was a great game," said head coach Eric Bell. "The game plan we came up with was quite good, a credit to my coaching staff for coming up with a plan that was effective, and the kids were able to execute. I think they got confidence from the first half, seeing that it was working. We knew they were going to come out in the second half and play a little bit higher, but I think we handle the pressure quite well.
"We wanted to be patient and not force things. We knew that we had to try to play in front of their back line, to play the ball wide and change the point of attack. We had to value the ball and not just kick it back to them."
Set pieces were the difference in the match as TCU capitalized on its opportunities, scoring a pair of goals off of corner kicks, while West Virginia did nothing with its nine corner kicks. Bobbi Clemmer dished out a pair of corner kicks that found their target as Monica Alvarado and Kelly Johnson connected for the TCU goals.
Despite West Virginia throwing 25 shots towards the net, the Horned Frog defense was content to give up the long shots and limiting the quality opportunities for the Mountaineers. The back line of Clemmer, Rebekah Foreman and Serena Smith-Banas continually got into shooting lanes, blocking away shots that were ticketed for the goal.
"We try to focus on blocking shots and I didn't think they were big chances," said Bell. "They shot from distance and that's easy for Vittoria to take care of. For us, it's a bend don't break, keep things in front of you, make it predictable where they are going to try to play the pass or shoot it. If we can do that and jump in and take it while making it predictable, I like our chances."
An aggressive start to the match by the Horned Frogs saw them earn some quality scoring opportunities. The Frogs got a good push up field as Maddy Courvoisier carried the ball. She fed over to Morgan Lane on the end line and her cross was right on target to Alvarado. Her shot was ticketed for the upper part of the net, but Sara Keane was there to punch it over the back of the goal.
On the ensuing corner kick, the Frogs hit paydirt. Clemmer's feed was perfect as she found the head of Alvarado, who knocked it in for her seventh goal of the season and a 1-0 lead.
West Virginia turned up the pressure and pushed the ball into its offensive zone. Each time the Mountaineers looked to have a quality shot, the defense moved into the shooting lane to block the shots. Clemmer and Smith-Banas were solid on the back line, limiting the chances on goal. Foreman kicked a ball out of danger just before it went over the goal.
TCU had opportunities to extend its lead, nothing better than the pair of chances for Alvarado with 13 minutes to go in the half. Her initial shot was blocked away by the goalkeeper, but pulled her out of position. Alvarado had another chance with an open net staring at her, but Mallory Smith blocked the ball out of danger to keep it a one-goal game.
The second half started the same as the first as both teams pushed the ball up and down the field. TCU had some early chances, none better than Johnson's header on a corner kick. Her shot was knocked down at the near post and cleared out of danger.
West Virginia had the best chance to get on the board in the half as Arnold's clearing kick deflected right to the foot of Bri Rodriguez. The Mountaineer midfielder settled the ball and unleashed a shot that was ticketed for the upper near corner, but Arnold was there to knock it away with a diving save.
Johnson finally got her due as she gave the Frogs a 2-0 lead in the 59th minute. Lindsy Schafer did a good job battling a West Virginia defender helping the Frogs earn a corner kick. Similar to the first half, Clemmer's feed was right on target as Johnson raced in to get a head on the ball, tucking it in off the far post for the two-goal lead.
The Frogs dodged a couple more bullets as the Mountaineers fired off shot after shot, but all from distance and the ones in close were blocked out of danger. Arnold was helped by the post in the 71st minute as Rodriguez's shot clanged off the near post and bounced out to a TCU defender, who was there to clear the ball away.
TCU becomes the first No. 8 seed to win a game in the Big 12 tournament since 2003. The Horned Frogs advance to the semifinals and will face Texas Friday evening at 5:30.