CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – No. 15 Texas Tech fell to Michigan Friday night in Chapel Hill, 3-2. The Red Raiders will finish with 15 or more wins for the fifth time in program history and fifth time in seven years.
"This team did it all right from the beginning," head coach Tom Stone said of his side. "They broke so many fitness records, were great in the weight room and were great in training. But, at some point in these big games, you've got to find those moments and tilt them your way. When those moments came, they [Michigan] tilted it their way and stiffened when we tried to get back in it."
Tech's 2019 campaign ended at the hands of a strong Wolverine team who used two second half goals to advance to the Sweet Sixteen.
The opposing squad went up early, scoring just eight minutes in to put Tech behind earlier than it had been this whole season. Their lead was short lived, however, as Jayne Lydiatt headed in the equalizer in the 22nd minute. She was in perfect was position on a cross by Kirsten Davis. The senior caught the service with her head and hit it hard enough to beat the Michigan keeper despite her getting a hand on it.
The teams entered the break knotted at one, both aware of the challenging 45 minutes waiting for them when they emerged. Despite good Michigan possession to start, a huge chance came Tech's way just over 15 minutes after halftime. Davis would take the shot after a long run, where she found herself one-on-one with the Wolverine goalkeeper albeit under pressure from behind. The junior tried to poke it in with her toe, but it was saved by the diving keeper.
The Tech bench, excited after what seemed to be a resurgence of the Red Raider offense, was quieted when the Wolverines used their counterattack to go down and take a 2-1 lead for themselves.
"When we tied it [in the first half], I thought we were going to go up 2-1," Stone said. "We didn't mind them having possession – we just wanted to limit their dangerous possession – but they opened us up in the second half and took the 2-1 lead for themselves."
A second blow to the Tech comeback came 20 minutes later in the 84th when the Wolverines again found the back of the net. Still, the Red Raiders were resilient. The team pressed high, and even pulled within one after Savanna Jones tapped a loose ball in the box in to make it 3-2 with just over a minute left to play. The senior's goal was her second of the year. Those two scores, combined with an assist against LMU, bring her to a career-high five points in her final season.
The emotion and determination were on the side of the Scarlet and Black, but time was not, and the Wolverines held on to win.
"Even after that I thought we might get another chance," Stone said. "I think if we would've tied it our emotions probably would have carried us through, but it wasn't to be our night."
With the end of the season comes the end of five Red Raider careers. Tech was led by this group all season long, with each senior as mature and fit for leadership as the last. The team was captained by two fifth-year seniors, Margaret Begley and Gabbie Puente, and Jayne Lydiatt, whose captainship was unquestionable despite transferring in as a junior. Without wearing a band, Savanna Jones and Demi Koulizakis commanded just as much respect with their seniority.
"I can't think of a team that was as close as this one and as fun to coach and as well led," said Stone. "These seniors were incredible, and these seniors were the best leaders we've had in many years. We're so grateful this team had the year they had. They deserved a bit more, but I can't fault their effort or their desire to be great."