ORANGE BEACH, Alabama – The Texas A&M Aggies dropped a 2-1 decision to the No. 2 South Carolina Gamecocks in an SEC Tournament quarterfinal match at Orange Beach Sportsplex.
The Maroon and White drew first blood in the match, but were unable to make it stand as SEC Offensive Player of the Year Savannah McCaskill broke through with a pair of second half goals.
Emily Bates broke the scoring seal in the 24th minute. The goal was set up when Haley Pounds and Kendall Ritchie worked a give-and-go 35 yards out. An unmarked Ritchie threaded a diagonal through ball that found a charging Bates two yards right of the penalty spot and she beat the keeper for the 1-0 lead.
The Aggies were the first team to own a halftime lead against South Carolina and the Maroon and White held the lead for 24 minutes against a team that trailed just 85 seconds all season heading into the match.
McCaskill’s first goal came in the 58th minute. A long header by Kaleigh Kurtz found McCaskill and she was able to chip it over Aggie goalkeeper Danielle Rice for the equalizer.
South Carolina claimed the lead in the 65th minute. Gamecocks’ goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski sent a long pass to a charging McCaskill down the center of the pitch and she found herself in an enviable position, ripping the game-winner from distance.
Rice kept the Aggies in the match early with a pair of spectacular saves. In the 11th minute she stonewalled McCaskill from eight yards out and the following shot by Daija Griffin hit the post and trickled out of bounds. In the 12th minute, Rice went horizontal to make a save on a shot by Sophie Groff.
Texas A&M had an opportunity to tie the game twice late, but Krzeczowski made game-saving stops on shots by Pounds in the 79th minute and Bates in the 81st minute.
The Aggies send an 11-8-1 resume to the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee and await word on a possible bid. The tournament field will be revealed on Monday at 3:30 p.m. Central on NCAA.com.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach G Guerrieri
On the match…
“I’m disappointed for our girls because they played with a lot of heart. To be up on the hottest team in the country like nobody else has been able to 55 minutes into the match and be up 1-0 is was a great start, but we weren’t able to finish. You have to take your hat off to South Carolina. They found a way. Their star got it done. We wish them the best going forward.”
On what the team showed the NCAA Tournament Selection Committee…
“I think down the stretch we showed how dangerous we could be once we were healthy. We just played the No. 2 team in the country down to the wire. I think if they take into account how good we can be and how well we can play against the best teams in the country, I don’t think we would disappoint them with our selection.”