Alli Murphy doesn’t like to be called a freshman.
True, she is three months removed from high school, but she didn’t look the part in Texas Tech soccer’s 2-0 win against New Mexico on Sunday at John Walker Soccer Complex.
Murphy, along with three other freshmen, started the second half and set tone for the rest of the game within the first five minutes of the second period.
“We wanted to go out there, keep the intensity up for our team,” said Murphy, who lined up and scored a penalty kick in the 50th minute to put Tech up 1-0. “And we went through the whole training (camp) and called ourselves — We’re not freshmen. We’re underclassmen.”
That fresh — err, underclassmen’s penalty kick paced the Red Raiders (2-0) for the rest of the second half, and Murphy wouldn’t leave the field again until the 89th minute after they had put the game out of reach.
A largely possession-oriented game in the first 45 minutes, Tech came out and starting moving up the field more in the second half.
Briana Rohmer, another freshman, set up the first goal when she and a gaggle of Tech players tried like mad to put a loose ball in the net.
Her headed shot was deflected away, and bounced up on a New Mexico defender’s hand, giving the Red Raiders a penalty kick and the chance to take the lead.
Starting striker Janine Beckie — yes, another freshman — was out of the game and neither was junior Jessica Fuston, so the choice for the shot came to Murphy.
“I’ve seen her take so many clutch PKs and free kicks,” Tech coach Tom Stone said, “and she’s just a young player that wants the ball. And to be fair, Fuston and Janine Beckie would both be options, but they were both off and so I’m like, ‘Alli wants it, she’s feeling it.’”
Plano native calmly struck the ball with the inside of her foot and into the back of the net as New Mexico goalkeeper Kelli Cornell dove the wrong way.
“It’s pretty nerve racking at first when the coach calls your number,” said Murphy, who also assisted on Tech’s second goal, “but he’s got to trust that he knows what you’re doing. He has confidence in you and so just have confidence in yourself. Go out there and take the shot and put it in the back of the net.”
The Lobos nearly leveled the game minutes later when Elba Holguin volleyed in a shot, but Holguin was deemed offside.
New Mexico (0-1-1) couldn’t mount any further attack, and Fuston put the game away in the 88th minute with a strike from outside the box that hit the underbelly of the top crossbar and bounced in — an impossible shot to defend.
“After half we just decided that we’ve got to keep our heads in it. We’ve got a deep bench, so the subs came in and helped us,” said Fuston, who logged her 20th career goal.
Stone said the freshmen on the club are a good complement to the upperclassmen, and he continue to expect them — especially Beckie, Rohmer and Murphy — to log quality minutes.
Beckie scored her first goal of the season in Friday’s 2-1 win against Idaho, as she peppered the vandals with eight shots.
In past years, freshmen would arrive on the team and immediately start, but this year they can come in and ease into the rotation and rely on the older players’ experience.
“We’re asking them to fit in with the upperclassmen and bring their talents to the surface when they’re needed,” Stone said, “and I think that’s a great way to balance your freshmen.”
The Red Raiders return to the field at the TCU Invitational Friday where they play Stephen F. Austin at 5 p.m. Friday in Fort Worth. They also play Montana at 11 p.m. Sunday in Fort Worth.
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