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The University Star

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The University Star

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Bobcat soccer challenges No. 4 TCU

Texas+State+freshman+forward+Olivia+Wright+%2820%29+holds+back+a+University+of+Arkansas+at+Little+Rock+defender+as+she+dribbles+the+ball+down+the+field%2C+Sunday%2C+Oct.+18%2C+2020%2C+at+Bobcat+Soccer+Complex.+The+Bobcats+won+2-1+over+the+Trojans.

Texas State freshman forward Olivia Wright (20) holds back a University of Arkansas at Little Rock defender as she dribbles the ball down the field, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, at Bobcat Soccer Complex. The Bobcats won 2-1 over the Trojans.

Texas State soccer (4-11-1 overall, 4-4 Sun Belt) hopes to earn its first win of 2021, as they travel to Fort Worth, Texas to face the No. 4 Texas Christian University Horned Frogs (8-0-1 overall and Big 12) on March 13.
The hits keep coming for the Bobcats as they lost 4-0 to a more experienced, yet still-growing University of Texas team, in their last time out.
The last game between TCU and Texas State took place in 2014, a 1-0 loss for the Bobcats, meaning a fresh start for both sides and little precedent on which to formulate predictions. 
TCU will play its first game of 2021 against the Bobcats, and will likely come out hungry after a fixture with Baylor scheduled on March 14 was canceled.
A similarly built TCU handled UT 3-0 on Sept. 18, an uneasy scoreline for those awaiting a Texas State win. However, it should be noted the middling Longhorn team appeared rejuvenated upon the addition of some young, nationally recognized players.
TCU’s current leading scorer, sophomore forward Grace Collins (five goals), scored against UT and in the Horned Frogs last game against West Virginia University on Nov. 6. The team’s next closest scorer, senior midfielder Yazmeen Ryan, has three goals, while no other player scored more than one.
In Texas State’s game against UT, many of the key issues arose in the inability to string together attacks when successfully defending a chance or shot from their opponents. The long balls forward seemed more like hopes than passes with attacking intent, easily snuffed out by alert Texas fullbacks. This problem existed in both games of the Bobcats’ games this year but became much more apparent against UT than North Texas University, as the latter struggled at times to create from the back and were far more direct with their passing than the Longhorns.
Many of the defensive problems against the Longhorns came from strikers drifting into wide areas and the UT midfield’s passing bypassing entire lines of defense. More complex teams require more complex answers on defense, and TCU may be the trickiest puzzle to solve thus far.
Against an even more organized team like TCU, the problems could be exposed once again, but Head Coach Kat Conner does have positives to glean from the last two losses.
The first two games, while overall short on attacking vision, showcased some promising play in midfield tracking back and winning the ball, by sophomore midfielder Karlee Torisk and freshman midfielder Alana Clark. The issue came when deciding what to do after the ball was won.
The Bobcat press often requires a striker to drop deep and apply pressure to midfielders, as the center-backs rarely handle the ball for large periods of time at the collegiate level. If the midfield pairing of Torisk and Clark wins the ball just in front of the box, their forward passing options would be a striker, inhabiting the space above them, as the creative midfielder between the double pivot and the striker drops further back when in defense. 
Either the attacking midfielder, usually freshman midfielder Mya Ulloa, or a striker would have to carry the ball nearly the length of the field, pass it to a nearby striker who would have to do a similar feat, or hoof the ball upfield in hopes of a Bobcat winger outrunning a defender.
High-level teams will take the one-on-one and lock down other options, as most modern fullbacks are formidable athletes if not former wingers of wide midfielders. This can leave a team one-dimensional and ineffective.
The game against TCU allows Conner to experiment before the conference season kicks off again in the fall, ideally under more normal circumstances. The Bobcats have their backs against the wall in this matchup yet fans of the team may hope to gain experience from a win for the first time this year.
Texas State will travel to face TCU at 7 p.m. on March 13 at Garvey-Rosenthal Soccer Stadium in Fort Worth.

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