Kansas State soccer (3-6) wrapped up the 2020 season with a 2-0 victory against Texas Tech (2-5-2) on Friday night. With the victory, the Wildcats finished their season with three league victories, the most in program history.
The victory also boosted the Wildcats to seventh in the Big 12 Conference standings, their highest finish in program history. With their record and spot in the standings, the Wildcats would have qualified for their first Big 12 Tournament appearance, but the tournament was canceled this season because of COVID-19.
“It is bittersweet,” head coach Mike Dibbini said. “The opportunity to make the Big 12 tournament was our first realistic goal, and it really happened tonight. It is unfortunate that there is not a tournament because these girls deserve it.”
The Wildcats honored seven seniors on senior night, the largest class in the program’s five seasons. The victory against the Red Raiders is also the first victory for the Wildcats on a senior night in program history.
“They played for each other, and they wanted to win this senior game for each other,” Dibbini said.
The Wildcats put pressure on the Red Raiders early in the first half off of turnovers in the middle third of the field. K-State struck first in the 36th minute on a strike to the corner of the net by senior forward Christina Baxter, assisted by sophomore midfielder Bailey Nemechek.
“Me and Bailey locked eyes, and I knew she was going to play me the ball, and it felt like I had to get there,” Baxter said. “I felt like I needed to shoot it, and I saw it go in.”
Senior midfielder Brookelynn Entz saw opportunities early in the game but couldn’t add to her school leading totals on Friday night. Entz finished her K-State career holding 28 program records.
Even with the Wildcats holding a 1-0 lead at halftime, Texas Tech dominated possession in the first half, holding the ball for 68 percent of the time. The Red Raiders finished the first half with 17 total shots, with only five of those shots being on goal.
Freshman goalkeeper Peyton Pearson kept the Wildcats in the game with five saves in the opening period. The Tulsa native finished the night with nine saves and secured the third shutout of 2020 for the Wildcats.
“Peyton did an amazing job tonight, Dibbini said. “Proud of her for stepping in and making some really big saves and couldn’t ask for a better night for her.”
K-State showed promise at goalkeeper this season, with three freshman making starts in goal and two posting shutouts.
As if playing down a goal wasn’t enough, the Red Raiders played with ten players for most of the second half after sophomore defender Hannah Anderson received a second yellow card in the 57th minute.
With the player advantage, K-State added an insurance goal in the 62nd minute on the counter-attack that was finished off by freshman forward Maddie Weichel thanks to a pass by sophomore forward Kyler Goins.
“I wanted to get that goal for the team,” Weichel said. “1-0 is a good lead, but 2-0 is even better, so I just wanted to get that lead for our team.”
Texas Tech continued to pressure the Wildcats and finished with 28 total shots, nine shots on goal, and 11 corners. K-State finished their night with 13 shots, five of those being on goal, and 10 fouls.
K-State finished the season on a high note, stringing together back-to-back conference victories for the first time in team history.