COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 6 Texas A&M Aggies toppled the Lamar Cardinals, 1-0, in the first round of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship at Ellis Field Friday evening. The triumph gave the Maroon & White their school-record 14th consecutive victory.
The win kept a couple other streaks going for the Aggies.
Texas A&M has advanced to the second round of the NCAA Championship in each of their last 20 appearances. It marks the third-longest active streak behind only North Carolina (35) and Virginia (23), who both open their tournament play Saturday. The Maroon & White have gone 18-0-2 during the span, advancing on PKs in 2003 (vs. SMU) and 2010 (vs. North Dakota State).
With the win, the Aggies’ improved to 27-0-5 (.929) against in-state rivals since 2008.
Texas A&M (18-2-1) got on the scoreboard in the eighth minute on an own goal. Aggie forward Ally Watt was the catalyst on the play, getting around the right flank of the Cardinals’ backline and sending in a cross from five yards off the end line. Lamar’s goalkeeper attempted to knock the ball out of danger, but the ball went off her mitts and was chested in by defender M.J. Eckart for the own goal. Had Eckart not interceded, Texas A&M forward Emily Bates was waiting unmarked in the six-yard box ready to pounce.
The Maroon & White dictated terms for most of the match, owning the advantages in shots (20-5), shots-on-goal (10-2) and corner kicks (9-3).
The Aggies were unlucky on a pair of occasions. In the 50th minute, Cienna Arrieta sent a laser in from 15 yards out. The ball hit the crossbar, went straight down and backspun away from goal before getting cleared. In the 60th minute, Watt was given a perfect service from Mikaela Harvey, setting up a 1-on-1 with the keeper, but Lauren Lovejoy snuffed out the effort.
Cosette Morché logged two saves in goal for her eighth shutout of the season. Lovejoy made nine saves for Lamar (18-4-1).
With the loss Lamar’s most successful season in history came to an end. The Cardinals finished the year 18-4-1 overall and made their first NCAA Championship appearance.
Texas A&M is slated to play NCAA Division I Championship Second Round action next Friday at Ellis Field. The Aggies will play either Notre Dame or IUPUI in a 7:30 pm match. At 3:30 p.m., Baylor will play the winner of USC-Eastern Washington.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach G Guerrieri
On an own goal tonight…
“That’s the third game in a row that we have forced the other team to score on themselves, and those come from pressure that we put on them. Last week in Orange Beach in the final against Arkansas, very similar to this goal tonight where Stephanie was able to get around the corner and basically zips the ball back across the face of the goal, and all the defender can do is knock it in their own goal, but if she lets it go we’re there to knock it in. It’s unfortunate for their defender that she’s in that situation, but it came from us being able to get around, and in this case from us being able to get around the corner and play a really difficult ball for the defense to deal with, and it ends up in the back of the net.”
On practicing dangerous balls…
“We talk all the time about how we want balls to go into dangerous positions knowing that the worst physical position for a defender is facing her own goal. We talk a lot about what are the results when you can get a team facing their own goal, and they usually end up being that they’re going to have to back into the goal and pick the ball out of the back of the net.”
Senior midfielder Stephanie Malherbe
On tonight’s opponent…
“I think they played super hard and really brought the work ethic. They played hard and physical, and they got numbers behind the ball so when we weren’t attacking quickly and then taking advantage of the space on transition plays, they were able to get behind and pack it in and made it really difficult for us to get in behind. I think that made it difficult for us. We should have capitalized on a lot of opportunities, but I think we did create opportunities and that’s important too.”
Sophomore forward Ally Watt
On looking forward to the next round…
“Lamar really put us in our place and made us really think again on what we needed to do to perform in the NCAA tournament. We should have better work rate and have better heart in there. They played with a lot of heart today and I have a lot of respect for them, so honestly we just need to play with more desire and we will bring that to the next game.”
Head Coach Steve Holeman
“My feelings right now are I’m incredibly proud of this team, with what they have accomplished this year. They have come a long way in this season. We knew when we drew Texas A&M we obviously knew that it was going to be an incredible challenge. They are No. 6 in the country and a No. 2 seed. It’s at in incredible environment, and I thought our girls handled it extremely well. We knew we were going to have to defend and that is exactly what we did today. We knew our chances were limited, but we defended extremely well.”
Thought on game…
“It was great; what an incredible environment. I have actually coached here before but in the SEC and I knew what we were in for. Texas A&M has so many has many weapons and are so dangerous, so one our keys was that we really needed to be organized in defense and I thought we did a really nice job. It was a great game, and it’s tough when you give up an own goal but with that said they had many quality chances to score. Lovejoy and our defense had a lot to do with keeping them off the board, but we walk out of here against one of the top teams in the country and the results is 1-0. This is not a bad way to end. I think our staff and our players will look back on this season and think it was one of the best ever.”
Senior goalkpeeper Lauren Lovejoy
About playing her last game…
“Obviously it was really hard, it was a great feeling to go out on this sort of game. It was a really great game by everybody, and if they have to score one goal to win it, so be it. I am so proud of the team and how hard everybody worked and how much effort they gave. It’s just an amazing feeling to come out of the game like that regardless of the outcome. We all did a really good job and couldn’t be more proud of this team.”
About A&M only scoring one goal…
“I mean I knew I had everything to lose, so I had to play my heart out and I did that out on the field. I can say that because I know I did.”
Junior forward Kelso Peskin
About the offensive side of the game…
“It was obviously tough, but we played our hearts out. I am so proud of these girls and it was a hard season. We achieved everything we wanted to achieve and coming here was a big achievement first of all. And it is one step closer to next season, and what we are going to do and what we are going to be achieving. So I am really proud of these girls and I am really happy that I got to play with the seniors. They did a really good job.”