Red Raiders face Lobos in Season Opener

The 24th-ranked Texas Tech Red Raider soccer team is getting their season underway tonight on the road against the New Mexico Lobos in Albuquerque.

The No. 24 Texas Tech soccer team starts its most anticipated season in program history tonight at 7 p.m. when the Red Raiders travel to Albuquerque to play the New Mexico Lobos.

Tech made the program's first ever NCAA Tournament appearance in the 2012 season and got to host a first round game. The Red Raiders defeated North Texas in the first round and lost at Florida State in double overtime.

Being on the road may have played a key factor in the loss to Florida State. Road woes are something Head Coach Tom Stone wants to change.

"One of the things we realized last year was that we need to be a better road team," Stone said. "We won some good road games last year, but we want to be better on the road, so we're starting out on Friday away."

Tech finished 3-4-1 on the road last season including the loss to top-seeded Florida State. Three of those losses were in non-conference games with two of them coming at the hands of teams from the Southeastern Conference.

Another factor going against the Red Raiders is history. The Lobos hold a 2-4-1 advantage over Tech since the two programs first met in 1995. Tech has not started on the road since 2007 when Georgia routed the Red Raiders 4-1.

The team looks to push history aside after a 1-0 road victory against the #25 Denver Pioneers in an exhibition game.

Redshirt senior midfielder and team captain Conner Williams said the exhibition game is important.

"I think it's really important because both Denver and New Mexico are very strong teams," Williams said. "New Mexico has always been really difficult to play."

Tech defeated the Lobos 2-0 at home in 2012. Both goals were scored by players who return this season. Alli Murphy scored the first goal on a penalty kick nearly 50 minutes into the game.

Murphy then added an assist with less than three minutes to go when Jessica Fuston put the ball in the back of the net. Fuston is a senior this season with Murphy being a sophomore.

Murphy came off the bench in that game and the bench may play a factor in this game. The team's top two scorers, Janine Beckie and Paige Strahan, were held to one shot each. Strahan was a substitute in that game too.

Tech returns eight starters from the 2012 season including Beckie, who was recently placed on the MAC Hermann Trophy watch list and the College Sports Madness Pre-season All-America Second Team. Beckie is the reigning Big 12 Rookie of the Year.

The Lobos finished 11-7-2 in 2012, which included wins at Texas and Georgia. The Lobo team is young and returns five starters. 26 of the team's 35 players are either sophomores or freshman.

The Lobos defense kept them in ballgames last season. New Mexico scored multiple goals in six games in 2012 and only once did they score more than 2. One of those games was a 2-1 victory at Texas in double overtime. The Lobos defeated SMU 4-1 for the most goals in a game. New Mexico was shut out six times in 2012.

The Lobos return one player who had more than one goal. Brianna Webster had two goals. The rest of the returning squad had four.

Coach Stone said he believes his team is ready.

"They've worked hard," Stone said. "I think fitness is not a question. We're strong, but the team's still coming together."

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