Photo by Brian Okosun
Texas A&M Soccer

Byers nets first goal as No. 17 Aggies pick up road win over Auburn, 1-0

October 13, 2019
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No. 17 Texas A&M earned a 1-0 shutout victory over the Auburn Tigers in a tight road matchup on Sunday.

The Aggies, who are coming off a disappointing loss to No. 7 Florida and a 1-1 draw against Alabama in double overtime, were looking to regain momentum with a win. With losses of key players to injuries across the board, the Aggies were hoping to find their footing with a new lineup. The match was a critical one for the Aggies as they were searching for a much-needed victory to stay in competition in the SEC West.

Another team in the running for one of the top spots in the SEC West is the Auburn Tigers, who sit one point back from the Aggies. With a 3-2-0 record in SEC play, the Tigers were coming off a tough loss to Mississippi State on the road and looking for a redemptive win at home. Known for their high powered offense and stout backline rotation, the Tigers looked to be a tough matchup for the Aggies.

Despite gloomy skies and intermittent rain, both teams came out sharp. The two well-matched sides battled it out in the midfield to start the day. The Aggies seemed to win the battle for possession, pushing the ball deep into Auburn territory and keeping it there for most of the first period.

In the seventeenth minute, Ásdís Halldórsdóttir split two defenders and took a deep shot that went just right of the frame. Addie McCain followed it up with a deep shot from midfield, while under pressure, that went just high of the goal in the twentieth minute. In the twenty-seventh minute, Katie Smith found Ásdís Halldórsdóttir deep in Tiger territory. Halldórsdóttir battled with the Auburn backline, getting off a shot that went just right of the goal to keep the Aggies scoreless.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Texas A&M keeper Shantel Hutton earned another clean sheet, blanking Ole Miss 1-0 on Sunday evening.

The Tigers did manage to break through and seriously challenge the Aggie defense in the final minutes of the half. Silvana Poulter sent a long cross to the Tigers standout midfielder Bri Folds. Folds brought the ball to the box and got off a shot under pressure, but A&M keeper Shantel Hutton was in position and made the easy save to keep the game scoreless.

Despite the missing starters in the backline rotation, the Aggies defense dominated the Tigers during the first half and only allowed one shot during the period.

Returning from the break, the two teams were still locked in a close and physical match. The Aggies continued to press on offense, recording fifteen shots on the afternoon.

In the sixty-first minute, a corner kick from Ásdís Halldórsdóttir looked like it might be the perfect setup for Taylor Ziemer to punch one in, but a spectacular block by a Tiger defender kept the Aggies off the board. 

The Aggies were in position again in the sixty-fifth minute when Macie Kolb took a shot from deep right field, drawing out the Tiger’s goalkeeper Kate Hart. Hart tried to corral the ball, but a deflection off a Tiger defender sent the ball air born. Hart and Aggie forward Ali Russell went up for the ball, but a faulty deflection off Hart left the ball still in play. Rheagen Smith tried to tap it in an open goal, but the shot was blocked by a Tiger defender.

The Aggies finally converted, drawing first blood in the seventieth minute. A corner kick by Jimena Lopez sent a high ball into a crowded box. The shot deflected off Auburn defender Jessie Gerow and Aggie midfielder Jenna Byers to find the back of the net and put A&M on the board. The goal is the first of Byers’ career. 

The Auburn Tigers had been quiet on offense for much of the second period but brought the heat in the final five minutes of the match. Auburn pressed hard, unleashing a barrage of shots in attempt to get on the board. In the eighty-fifth minute, a deep ball shot from an Auburn midfielder came to the outside of the six-yard box. Goalkeeper Shantel Hutton came forward to field the ball which took an unexpected hop. Senior forward Treva Aycock was there to take the shot on an empty goal for the Tigers but overshot the frame.

Angelina Alcantar, TexAgs
Jenna Byers scored the lone goal on Sunday evening, the first of her Texas A&M career.

A penalty kick in the eighty-seventh minute by junior Alyssa Malonson had the Tigers knocking on the door. Malonson’s set-piece found a waiting Brooke Berdan, who attempted to send the ball in with a header but came in with a little too much power and sent the shot high. Despite the 1-0 deficit, the Tigers were pressing hard. With the final twenty seconds of the match winding down, Auburn earned a free-kick to put them in position again. The Aggie backline held strong and managed to clear the ball as time expired, securing the win on the day for the Aggies.

The Aggies defense looked phenomenal on the day, only allowing only seven shots, most of which came in the Tiger’s final offensive surge. Despite the loss of standout sophomore Karlina Samples and junior Jordan Hill to injuries, the Aggie backline played phenomenally, recording their tenth shutout of the year. Center back Briana Alston had a stellar game, showing great vision and patience in her distribution of the ball to a stacked midfield rotation.

A&M head coach G Guerrieri spoke highly of his team’s ability to step up and play well despite the loss of key players in their lineup.

“Injuries are part of the game,” said Guerrieri. “The college season is so short that the games come so fast and furious that often times people are going to miss games, but this is an extraordinarily high number of key injuries we’ve had.

“I’m really proud of the players that have stepped up and helped us to continue winning. It’ll be nice to get some of those other guys back as we continue on with the SEC season.”

With the win, the Aggies improve to 10-2-3 on the season and secure their twenty-seventh consecutive winning season.

The Aggies will be back in action when they take on Arkansas in a Friday matchup at Ellis Field.

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Byers nets first goal as No. 17 Aggies pick up road win over Auburn, 1-0

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