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Photo by Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Texas A&M Soccer

Aggie soccer's double overtime thriller against Alabama ends in a draw

October 11, 2019

The No. 17 Texas A&M Aggies (9-2-3) earned a 1-1 draw in a double-overtime thriller against the Alabama Crimson Tide (7-4-2) on Thursday at Ellis Field. 

Following a disappointing road trip against Florida, the Aggies were hoping to bounce back at home. The game was a crucial one as the Aggies were looking to separate themselves from talented Auburn and Arkansas teams, both of whom are in a three-way tie with A&M at the top of SEC West standings.

On the other side of the field, Alabama struggled early in the year to establish themselves but has been remarkably consistent in their level of play entering their stretch of conference games. Heading into the match with a two-game win streak — both against conference rivals in overtime — the Tide was looking for a repeat performance of last season’s upset win over a talented Aggie squad.

As the Aggies enter the home stretch of their regular season play, some noticeable faces were missing from the field. During the squad’s trip to Gainesville, defender Karlina Sample suffered a season-ending ACL injury, leaving the Aggies without her dominant presence on the backline. The Aggies were also without the team’s leading scorer, Ally Watt, who was held out due to concussion protocol. Dynamic defender Jordan Hill played limited minutes due to an ankle injury. A bright spot was the return of Jimena Lopez, the Aggies’ impactful midfielder and the national leader in assists, who returned after a game away due to attending training camp for the Mexican National team. 

With a number of changes in the lineup, it was no surprise the Aggies took a while to get themselves in gear on Thursday. Alabama exploited the Aggies’ loss of personnel during the match, particularly on the offensive side of the ball. The Tide’s three-player midfield front worked hard to keep the Aggie offense contained. With dominant one-on-one coverage isolating the varied offensive lineup, the Tide made it difficult for the Aggies to establish themselves on the attack.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
The Aggies were able to find opportunities to score throughout the game but were unable to cash in.

While the first half saw an intense struggle for meaningful possessions, both teams managed to get a couple of close shots off. In the fourteenth minute, Alabama midfielder Taylor Morgan took a shot as she tangled with an Aggie defender. The ball went wide and Tide freshman Carlee Giammona attempted to touch it in, only to hit a shot that went wide left. The Aggies countered in the twenty-third minute when Jimena Lopez let loose an arched shot that looked like it would cross in behind the Tide’s goaltender. The shot grazed the crossbar, altering the ball’s trajectory and leaving the Aggies scoreless.

In the sixty-seventh minute, the Tide managed to break the ice. A corner kick from midfielder Serena Pham had the Tide deep in Aggie territory. The shot went high and was lobbed about in a crowded box. Aggie goal tender Shantel Hutton went for the save in traffic but slipped on the turf. The back line rallied and tried to clear the ball, but an attempt to get rid of it bounced off an Aggie defender in the crowded box and into the back of the net, resulting in an own goal for the Aggies.

Down 1-0, the Aggies rallied. After taking some time to collect themselves following the error, the Aggies looked more purposeful on offense.

In the eighty-third minute, the Aggies’ effort paid off. When an Alabama defender fouled junior midfielder Rheagen Smith to give the Aggies’ a penalty kick deep in the Tide’s right field, the Aggies were ready to capitalize on the opportunity. Midfielder Jimena Lopez took the kick and unleashed a perfectly placed shot that lobbed over the goalkeeper and into the back of the net to tie it up.

With the equalizer on the board, the Aggies’ confidence was high. With increased aggression and elevated levels of play evident in both teams as time ran down, the two were all tied up at the end of regulation.

As overtime is played in sudden death fashion, the pressure to strike first and take home the win was on. The Aggies showed signs of their offensive talent and depth, coming out fast and furious on offense to kick off the first overtime period.

In the ninety-third minute, a shot from Briana Alston found a well-placed Jimena Lopez. Lopez took the header, grazing the right post and missing the goal by inches. The Aggies were knocking on the door again in the ninety-ninth minute when Ásdís Halldórsdóttir took a shot on goal, but a save by the Tide’s goalkeeper kept Alabama in the game. In the final minute of the first overtime period, the Tide’s offense surged on a breakaway deep in A&M territory. A clutch play by Aggie midfielder Katie Smith to block the shot extended the game and sent A&M and Alabama to double overtime.

“The good thing is we have depth on this team, but it’s time for the depth to step up. And it did for the large case.”
- G Guerrieri

Double overtime commenced with the Tide and Aggies still locked in a tight game. Despite the toll of additional playing time on a rundown squad, the Aggies did not falter. The Aggie defense held strong, only allowing one shot from the Tide in the final ten minute period. As the final seconds ticked off, Aggie forward Ali Russell found the ball on a breakaway. It looked like the Aggies might prevail in the final seconds, but the shot went wide left as time expired. 

While the Aggies did not walk away with the victory they had hoped for, the match showed the team’s grit and toughness as the team came from behind to nearly conquer their conference foes.

A&M head coach G Guerrieri was proud of the way the team stepped up and faced adversity in a hard-fought game, especially when facing a multitude of injuries and rotation changes.

“They are willing to step up and be the next person in to fight for the group,” Guerrieri said. “They know when one of their teammates goes down they have to step up and be the person that is going to play not only for themselves but also for the player that went down.

“The good thing is we have depth on this team, but it’s time for the depth to step up. And it did for the large case.”

Senior Taylor Ziemer echoed Guerrieri’s feelings on the difficulty of an altered lineup.

 “I think it’s always difficult to put people in different places and lose people in the middle of the season, but we got to do it. That’s part of soccer,” said Ziemer.

“I think that people stepped up and played pretty well. I think as a team we have to play better. I think we should be a little disappointed in the way that we played. We’re better than we played tonight, but we worked really hard.”

The Aggies will be back in action on Sunday when they head on the road to face the Auburn Tigers.

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Aggie soccer's double overtime thriller against Alabama ends in a draw

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