A look back at Abdalla's debut season

Nov. 17, 2005

FORT WORTH, Texas - TCU soccer coach Dan Abdalla completed his first season at the helm of the program. In March 2005, Abdalla became just the second coach in Horned Frog women's soccer history. With a limited amount of time to prepare, Abdalla quickly whipped the team in shape and prepared it for the transition involved in a coaching change and the move to the Mountain West Conference. Adversity faced the team immediately as key players were lost or had limited playing time due to injuries. The Frogs ended their season with an overall record of 6-11-0.

After all was said and done, the Frogs' 17 games included nine against teams that qualified for the NCAA Tournament and all but one team on the schedule appeared in its league's conference tournament. Karissa Hill was honored at the MWC postseason banquet in Las Vegas, Nev., as a second-team all-conference performer. Academically, Bara Gunnarsdottir earned second-team academic all-district honors from ESPN The Magazine.

The Abdalla era started out on the right foot as TCU opened the season with a dominating 4-0 win over Big 12 member Texas Tech. Four different Frogs tallied goals in the contest and Katy Buchanan and Ashley Pierret combined for the shutout. In what would become a trend for the team, the Frogs faced their first top-10 program of the season when Texas A&M came to town. Highlighting the contest was a new Garvey-Rosenthal record for attendance as 1,910 fans packed the stadium. The game was a costly one for more than the defeat as freshman defender, Courtney Brill was lost for the season with a knee injury.

Following the A&M match, the Frogs played their only two road games of the month when they headed across the Metroplex to NCAA Tournament-qualifier SMU and then Houston. The Frogs returned home for the annual Horned Frog Classic. The Frogs secured one of the biggest wins of the season to that point with a 1-0 overtime victory over another tournament squad, Northwestern State. A late rally in the second half against Pepperdine, their second top-10 opponent of the season, fell short. Moran Lavi's attempt at the game-tying goal clanged off the crossbar as TCU fell 3-2.

The Frogs received an unexpected 14-day break as Hurricane Rita cancelled a match against Rice and forced the rescheduling of the contest versus Sam Houston State for the following weekend. The rest paid dividends as the Frogs played their best soccer of the year in two shutout victories when they finally got back on the field. TCU dominated the Bearkats to the tune of a 4-0 win. Bjarnveig Birgisdottir had a breakout game as she posted the Frogs' first hat trick since 1999 and assisted on the other goal. The biggest win of the season came two days later as TCU knocked off a tough Boise State squad in overtime. Birgisdottir tallied the game-winner just 16 seconds into the extra frame. Birgisdottir's outstanding weekend garnered her the Frogs' first-ever Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week honors.

October marked another first for the Frogs as they played their opening matches against Mountain West Conference foes. Adversity greeted the Frogs at the hands of the scheduling gurus. The Frogs played five of the seven matches at road venues. The conference season started with one of the toughest road swings in the country as TCU headed to Utah to face the Utes and BYU. After the Frogs returned home, they learned that freshman defender K.D. Waters was sidelined for the remainder of the season.

In the final two matches at Garvey-Rosenthal, TCU played host to NCAA Tournament qualifier and Abdalla's former team UNLV as well as San Diego State. October 21 marked the Frogs' first league win as they defeated Air Force 2-1 on the road.

The Frogs went on to qualify for the Mountain West Conference Tournament in Las Vegas. The Frogs were the seventh-seed and had to play the host UNLV in the first round. They lost to the eventual tournament champions. After battling to a 0-0 halftime score, the Rebels tallied three second-half goals to end the Frogs' season.

"Overall, I was pleased with progress we made this first season," remarked Abdalla. "We played one of the best schedules in the country and learned to compete. The foundation we laid this fall, I have no question, will lead to many championships in the future."



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