LUBBOCK, Texas – Powered the second-career hat trick from junior Ashleigh Williams and a career-best three assists from sophomore Macy Blackburn, the Texas Tech women soccer program raced by Ball State, 4-1 Thursday night at the John Walker Soccer Complex.
After conceding a tough equalizer just five minutes before the break, Texas Tech (2-0-1) immediately answered in the second half, scoring three times in a matter of 15 minutes.
The first two goals of the three-goal sequence came from Williams, who has now scored five goals in her last two matches.
With her hat trick tonight, Williams became just the fifth Red Raider to record three goals in match.
HOW IT HAPPENED:
Tech got off to a strong start on Thursday night using a strong run from Kylie Bahr to open the scoring. Racing down the left-hand side of the pitch, Bahr made a Ball State (1-2) defender fall to the ground with a beautiful stutter-step move.
The run and subsequent move opened up a cross opportunity, where the outside back found a wide-open Williams, who took a touch and deposited the ball into the back of the net.
Just five minutes later, Ball State had a great chance to equalize, when Lexi Fraley intercepted a pass and found herself with a late run in the box. Fraley ripped a shot that keeper Madison White was able to kick wide. The save was one of a season-high three that White would accumulate on the night.
White has now recorded 195 saves, and needs just five more saves to become the sixth goalie in Tech history to record 200 saves. She trails former Red Raider Victoria Esson by just 18 saves for fifth-place on the all-time saves mark.
Tech continued to dominate possession and most of the chances, until midway through the 35th minute when Ball State forward Delaney Caldwell intercepted a pass and was able to slot a ball past White.
As a result of the BSU goal, the match headed to the break tied at one.
Much like Sunday’s match against New Mexico State, Tech scored quickly out the break on a yet another beautiful goal.
Giselle Kozarski ended a strong run with a perfect flick to a streaking Blackburn. Deep in the Cardinals end, Blackburn slotted a perfect ball to Williams, who with a perfect spin eluded the final Cardinal defender before ripping a shot past BSU keeper Bethany Moser.
Armed with the lead once again, Tech continued to buzz, as the Red Raiders searched for a commanding two-goal lead.
The third goal came a matter of moments later, when freshman Sam Courtwright threaded a beautiful ball into the BSU box that found the trusty right-foot of a streaking Blackburn. The defender calmly and swiftly re-directed a pass that found a cutting Williams, who directed the ball over the goal-line for her third and final goal of the evening.
The fourth and final goal of the night also emanated from a strong run by Blackburn, who after taking a beautiful feed from Molly Skurenski redirected a pass across the BSU goal.
The ball skipped perfectly off the new natural grass surface, rolling past Williams and onto the left foot of Alex Kerr.
Nearing the back post, Kerr showed her poise, chipping the ball into lower right-hand side of the net for her third goal of the season.
Armed with a 4-1 lead, Tech was able to dig deep into its bench, as 13 different reserves saw action.
As a result, of the 11 Tech starters, only two played more than 70 minutes; White and captain Hannah Anderson.
In fact, only four Tech starters played more than 60 minutes: White, Anderson, Blackburn and Jillian Martinez.
The 4-1 victory was Tech’s second straight lopsided win to open a five-match homestand and came off the heels of a dominate 5-0 victory over 2022 NCAA Tournament participant New Mexico State.
After recording just 14 assists on 23 goals last season, the Red Raiders already have 15 assists on 10 goals. For the season, Tech is now outshooting its opponents 57-16 after outshooting BSU 25-7.
COACH SPEAK (HC TOM STONE):
Tonight, this Ball State team served some up some questions that we didn’t have the answer for. They have a very unique way that they build. And they are the most physical team that we have played thus far. But, the game is really fun when the ball moves fast, and the ball was moving fast in the first half. It did when we scored the goal which came from our sideline encouraging them to play faster. Then we went right back to (playing their game) it was like they sprinkled magic dust on us towards the end of the first half. But at halftime we sorted it out and had a good conversation. Everybody understood what had happened and that we needed to snap out of it. So, we just came out with a different edge, with a different attitude. We were moving the ball quickly and once the ball started moving, then I think we took the game back over and that’s how we created the three goals in the second half.”
On Blackburn’s strong start to the season:
“To say the least, Macy is a game changer because she’s a good defender. She’s a good link player. She’s got good possession, but her final touch pass and her ability to beat people and set up people to score is amongst the best in the country. She is only a sophomore and her passing is ridiculous at times. We’re seeing what she can do, and last year she had three assists on our first three goals, and then we lost her for the season. Now she has four assists in just three games. We’re a better team with Macy, that’s obvious, but her passing is just spectacular.”
FORWARD ASHLEIGH WILLIAMS:
On turning the page to Sunday:
“A big word for us is consistency. So, when you stay consistent, and don’t try to play the other team’s game good things happen. We need to play our game, pass the ball, move it, and get up the field. Do box runs, so staying consistent for me, and my team is key. ”
DEFENDER MACY BLACKBURN:
“Sunday games are important and we always talk about having that ‘Sunday mentality’. It’s not easy, especially for players that are playing higher minutes on Thursday and are expected to play the same amount and level on Sunday. We make our recovery important. We have an awesome staff that really helps us with that. We get in and do our recovery, ice baths, make sure we’re drinking our electrolytes. We also have such a deep bench, so no matter what, even when we have our bench comes in, our game doesn’t go down. Sundays for us are exciting because we don’t lose very often on Sundays.”
The Red Raiders will look to remain unbeaten on the season on Sunday when the Aggies of Utah State pay a visit to the John Walker Soccer Complex. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Release provided by Andrew Stern Texas Tech Athletics