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October 27, 2013

Tech hands WVU first loss

Texas Tech soccer did what it needed to do Friday to contend for its first Big 12 Championship with a 1-0 win against Kansas. Unfortunately, West Virginia did as well.

Thanks to two Red Raider draws in conference play to an otherwise perfect conference record, the Mountaineers had an edge in points entering Friday and the opportunity to clinch the regular season title. The 'Eers finished the objective off with an overtime win at Oklahoma.

But West Virginia had to visit Lubbock on Sunday evening in a battle of league unbeatens.

The No. 18 Red Raiders handed the No. 9 Mountaineers' their first Big 12 regular season loss and first conference loss since 2011 with a 2-0 win.

"Well, somebody needed to beat them," head coach Tom Stone said. "They hadn't lost a game in the Big 12 for two years. They're a class team with great coaches. They're very organized. It meant more to us than it did to them, and I think we played like it did. We accept that. We had to play like that.

"To anybody that's watching, they saw a team that's getting hungry for the postseason. Tonight was a big step in that direction."

West Virginia's regular season ended in Lubbock. It finished the campaign 13-3-2 overall and 7-1 in the Big 12.

The Moutaineers have 21 points in league play. It will be enough to finish at the top of the standings while other teams finish schedules.

West Virginia's only other Big 12 loss ever came against TCU in last season's conference tournament.

Collegiate soccer teams get three points in the standings for wins, one point for a tie and no rewards for a loss.

Tech (15-1-2, 5-0-2) now has 17 points and will take on Texas -- which has 16 points -- next week for the No. 2 spot in the final Big 12 standings.

"The schedule is not always nice to us, but we got a good schedule this year," sophomore forward Janine Beckie, who scored the Red Raiders' second goal Sunday, said. "We got our three biggest games at home to end the season. Nothing could prepare us better for the Big 12 tournament than playing the best teams at the end of the year."

With the wind at its back, West Virginia dominated possession through about the first 10 minutes of Sunday's game.

Tech pushed forward from there and looked like the better team the rest of the evening.

Hayley Haagsma broke the scoreless game with a header past the goalkeeper off a corner cross from Jalene Hinkle in the 41st minute of the game. It was a nice start for a player who had foot surgery two weeks ago.

"I was hoping I would be able to get into one of these games and make a difference," Haagsma said. "The fact it was against West Virginia on our own field tonight was the cherry on top."

Beckie scored seven minutes into the second half on a breakaway thanks to a perfect pass from freshman forward Maddy Crabtree.

West Virginia had 10 first half shots and just three in the second half. Tech goalkeeper Victoria Esson made four saves Sunday and has only given up six goals through 19 games.

Tech will square off with Texas at the John Walker Soccer Complex, 7 p.m. Friday, to finish its regular season on the heels of the big win.

"We were prepared for them to come in as champions or for them to come in with the championship on the line," Stone said. "Our whole focus was we just had to be ready to play the game because we needed the win, we needed to keep our streak alive, we needed to advance our cause for the postseason. Obviously, beating the No. 17 team in the RPI was going to help us do that."

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