COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 19 Texas A&M Aggies rattled off their fifth consecutive win and back-to-back shutouts as they blanked the Alabama Crimson Tide, 2-0, at Ellis Field Thursday night.
The victory improved Texas A&M’s mark to 9-2-1 on the season and 4-1-0 in SEC play. Alabama dropped to 8-5-1 overall and 0-4-1 in league action.
The last two SEC Offensive Player of the Week winners connected on the first goal for the Aggies. Callyn Walton sent a ball into the penalty spot from 35 yards out. An Alabama clearance header came out to Cienna Arrieta, left of the penalty arc. The El Paso, Texas native allowed the ball to take one hop to eye level and as it dropped back down she ripped a volley goalward. Ally Watt won a race with the goalkeeper, sending a header from seven yards out into the back netting for the 1-0 lead.
The Aggies went into the intermission with the one-goal lead and held slim edges in shots (6-5) and corner kicks (3-1).
Alabama was forced to soldier on for the last 34 minutes down one player after Nealy Martin was issued her second yellow card of the match.
Texas A&M kept searching for insurance goal, keeping the high offensive pressure. Claudette Lassandro appeared to give the Aggies the much-cherished second goal when she sent a free kick from the right side of the penalty box and roped a shot through traffic finding the back of the net, but a Texas A&M player was deemed to have committed an infraction, keeping the score at 1-0.
The Aggies finally added to the lead in the 87th minute. With the Maroon & White bleeding the clock, Brittany Crabtree stripped the ball from a Crimson Tide midfielder 40 yards out and weaved through traffic, dribbling into the penalty arc. She found a clear shooting lane and sent a left-footed shot between the keeper and the right post for her first goal of the season.
Cosette Morché made two saves for the Aggies as she recorded her fifth shutout of the season.
Both backlines were stout as the two teams combined for just five shots-on-goal, with three by the Aggies and two by Crimson Tide.
The Aggies return to action Sunday when the Maroon & White travel to Athens for a 4:05 p.m. contest against the Georgia Bulldogs.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach G Guerrieri
On tonight’s performance…
“Great result, to start off with. I think the difference was the speed up front, pressing them and not allowing them to get the ball out the way they would like to. I thought that our midfield did a good job, and our forwards really did a good job, of not just pressing but even when we would win the ball we didn’t give the ball back. We made them have to chase us a little bit especially towards the end as they were really having to chase the game, we made them chase not just the game but also Ally Watt. They had to do a lot of things. I was really pleased with the way the whole team played, honestly.”
On defensive play…
“Our defense was terrific. Now that’s two shutouts in a row. Cosette (Morché) is going to have to make just a couple saves a game, but she’s got to be able to read the defense the whole time, and that’s where she’s really learning and getting better and better. She’s a great shot-stopper, and now she’s becoming an even better leader.”
Sophomore forward Ally Watt
On the win...
“We had a game plan this weekend to really go in high pressure. We really seen that with the teams they've been playing. Phil (Stephenson) has been really focus on us pressing. So every forward that goes up there, Claudette (Lassandro), Rheagen (Smith), Brittany (Crabtree) and Haley (Pounds) we all make sure we put as much pressure as we can. If we need to rotate subs, we rotate them. Good job by all the forwards and the midfield is always backing us up when we press so good job to them as well. They really held it down for us today.”
On her go-ahead goal...
“I was really hoping that the keeper wasn't coming off her line because I would have lost that battle against her. She is a tough player, she's tall and big. I knew I had to go in after the ball because I haven't been able to finish any of my crosses so I was taking every chance I got. I was really lucky to get that header in.”
Sophomore defender Briana Alston
On feeling confident with covering Alabama’s forwards…
“Definitely as the game went on I started to feel more comfortable with our back three. And position-wise the back three knew where to be.”
On going from playing right back to center back…
“All my life I have played center, so I was used to it and felt comfortable back there but definitely going from right to inside is definitely more of a leadership role but as the game went on I got more used to that.”