Provided by Texas Tech Communications
Texas Tech, coming off the best season in school history, was picked to finish second Wednesday in the Big 12 Conference Preseason Poll that is voted on by the league coaches.
The Red Raiders, who are fresh off an 18-2-3 campaign in 2013, garnered 56 points in the poll, eight back of preseason favorite West Virginia. This is the second-straight season Tech has been picked second in the poll, matching the highest preseason nod in program history.
Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas followed Tech in third, fourth and fifth place, respectively, while Kansas, TCU, Iowa State and Oklahoma rounded out the bottom half of the poll.
Tech returns 20 letterwinners, including seven starters, from its 2013 squad that set the single-season school record for victories and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship for the second-consecutive season.
The Red Raiders did not lose a single match during Big 12 play, ending the regular season 6-0-2 overall and just a point back in the conference standings of a West Virginia team Tech defeated, 2-0, in Lubbock. Tech's second place finish was its highest ever in program history.
Eighth-year head coach Tom Stone returns from that squad seven student-athletes who totaled three or more goals, highlighted by MAC Hermann Trophy watch list candidate Janine Beckie, who totaled 12 goals of her own as a sophomore.
Beckie is one of two Hermann watch list candidates for the Red Raiders, joining senior defender Jaelene Hinkle, a third-team NSCAA All-American in 2013 after bolstering a Tech back line with a team-high six assists. Tech is one of just six programs nationally and the only one from the Big 12 with two or more players on the watch list.
Tech founded much of its success last year on the heels of a defense that ranked second nationally for shutout percentage and third for goals-against average after surrendering just nine goals on the season. The Red Raiders closed the season with a school record 17 shutouts in 23 matches.
The Red Raiders will open the 2014 season on Aug. 22, facing New Mexico in a 7 p.m. first kick at the John Walker Soccer Complex. Tech will begin its season ranked in the top 25 for the second-straight season as the Red Raiders are 17th in the NSCAA preseason poll that was announced last week.