It was a moment everyone had been waiting for since the Red Raider soccer program began in 1996 – the name Texas Tech to be called out during a NCAA selection show.
The wait for that moment ended on Monday as the Red Raider soccer team continued its historic 2012 season with the programs first-ever bid to the field of 64 in the NCAA Tournament.
"It's very rewarding, I couldn't be happier for the girls on this team," Tech head coach Tom Stone said following the announcement. "We've successfully made this program what it is right now, they've come together and worked extremely hard. Built these strong relationships, their really accountable with their training wanted to put this program where it is in the NCAA Tournament and I couldn't be happier for them."
A major part of the group of girls on the current Red Raider squad that have been through the highs and lows during the past few seasons are the five seniors.
The seniors have waited for this moment since they got here, Stone said, and it means the most to him that they are a part of the first ever NCAA Tournament squad at Tech considering they were a part of the foundation of this team four years ago.
"It was their goal when they came here, was to build this program with this coaching staff and to put us into the NCAA Tournament," he said. "It's what they came here to do, it's what we told them in recruiting, it's what they told us in recruiting they wanted. They love the university and they trusted that with their teammates and the coaches and the whole athletic department behind us that we could do something special here. I think it's fitting that this class is the one that puts us in there, because they were the foundation that we built this team on."
Tech (15-5-1) opens tournament play on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Lubbock at the John B. Walker Soccer Complex against the North Texas Mean Green.
Getting to host a regional game in a program's first appearance is a rarity, Stone said, but Tech will have that opportunity to play in front of a home crowd, which is going to be nice for the players and coaching staff and the city of Lubbock as well.
"Well you know it's equally rewarding for the fans, because they are a big reason we have been able to recruit so well," Stone said. "Because when recruits come into our stadium and it's full of 2,000 people it's hard to say no. So the fans are now being rewarded for their support because they've given us so much of their time and effort that to be able to have a NCAA game in their backyard is a special treat as well."
The Mean Green (16-4-2) are entering the NCAA Tournament for the third time in program history, after winning their second consecutive Sun Belt Conference title, fifth in program history, before going and capping off the 2012 campaign by winning the Sun Belt Conference Tournament.
Tech and North Texas will face each other for the ninth time in program history, the series being tied at 4-4, the last meeting going in favor of the Red Raiders back in 2010 at the Red Raider Classic, Tech winning 1-0.
With both teams being from the state of Texas, both programs recruiting from the Dallas area, and having met before and both having historic seasons, Stone said this is going to be a good match to watch.
"Well they're very good," Stone said about North Texas. "It's a really big game for both programs. Every time we've seen them or played against them, I've been impressed by their coaching staff, their organization, their commitment on the day. It's going to be a legitimate end-to-end game.
"This is going to be one of the better first round matchups that your going to see."