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Photo by Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Texas A&M Soccer

Texas A&M falls 3-1 in ranked matchup with Arkansas at Ellis Field

October 19, 2019

No. 18 ranked Texas A&M Aggies fell to No. 8 Arkansas 3-1 in a tough conference matchup at home on Friday.  With titles and playoff positioning on the line, the two talented teams headed to Ellis Field to battle it out in a Friday night showdown.

Arkansas, who came into the match with a three-game win streak, has enjoyed an offensive resurgence during the second half of the season, outscoring their opponents 13-1 in their last three contests. Like the Aggies, the Razorback squad takes pride in a solid backline rotation. Both the Aggies and Razorbacks boast some of the most impressive defenses in the country, each totaling ten shutouts on the season.

After starting the season strong, the Aggies have struggled to recover from a string of injuries that plagued them at key positions this season. Despite massive changes to their starting lineup, the Aggie squad has worked hard to adapt and overcome, earning a hard-fought win over Auburn this week, as they work to regain their health and confidence.

As both teams enter the home stretch of the regular season, the battle for the top spot in the SEC West is tight. With a 5-1-0 record in conference play, the Razorbacks currently hold the top spot in the western division. Texas A&M, who is 4-1-1 in the SEC this season, sat a half a game behind the Razorbacks coming into play on Friday. With the two battling it out for a chance to take at a future SEC West crown, a head to head matchup promised to be a fiercely competitive game.

With two incredibly talented teams locked in a close contest, the game certainly delivered on expectations. Arkansas looked aggressive on offense to start the day, pushing deep into the Aggies’ territory and working hard to establish scoring opportunities. The Aggie’s defense stood firm early, keeping the Aggies in the game and allowing A&M’s slow-starting offense to find their gear. As the first half continued, the two teams played competitive, physical soccer, trading possessions and battling it out in the midfield.

Arkansas, whose offense has thrived on set pieces opportunities all season, had plenty of chances to convert on the evening, ending the match with six corner kicks and seven drawn fouls.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Jordan Hill dribbles with the ball during Texas A&M’s 3-1 loss to No. 8 Arkansas on Friday night.

In the 22nd minute, the Razorbacks broke the ice with a set-piece opportunity. With the two teams locked in a tight battle, Arkansas found themselves deep in A&M territory to set up a corner kick. Razorback Marissa Kinsey took the kick, sending it wide in the box. Sophomore Bryana Hunter was positioned to receive the kick and tried to send the ball in with a header but fell just short in the crowded box. Standout freshman Anna Podojil, who leads the Hogs in scoring this season, managed to get a foot on it and tapped it in behind Aggie keeper Shantel Hutton in traffic.

In the 37th minute, a cleared ball from the Aggie defense found forward Ally Watt, who took it to the box. A desperate Arkansas defender tried to slow Watt’s progress and committed a hard foul in the box to set up a penalty kick from Jimena Lopez. Lopez, whose dynamic season includes a national high assists total, took the shot, tucking the ball in the left corner of the goal behind a diving goalkeeper to tie the score up at one apiece.

In the 52nd minute, the Razorbacks goalkeeper Katie Lund was called on to take a penalty kick for the Hogs. Lund, who took the free-kick from about thirty yards outside the box, sent a powerful shot deep into Aggie territory. Arkansas forward Tori Cannata found the deep ball in the Aggie box and slipped one in behind Shantel Hutton to put Arkansas up 2-1.

With the momentum all in the Razorbacks’ favor, Arkansas did not waste any time before going back on the attack. In the 55th minute, forward Parker Goins was battling it out with an Aggie defender in the Razorbacks’ attacking third. An attempted tackle from an Aggie defender deflected the ball back into Goins, who took advantage of the ball’s placement and cleared a path through the box to unleash a powerful shot. The arching ball sailed into the back of the net, traveling into the left corner of the frame above the Aggie keeper’s reach.

Down by two scores, the Aggies were not giving up, continuing to press on offense. In the 56th minute, the Aggies looked like they might put themselves back in the game when Jimena Lopez, deep in left field, crossed one over for a surging Ally Watt. The jump ball caught Watt a second too soon, and the ball soared just inches above the crossbar to leave the Aggies still down by two.

“Arkansas brought the fight. I was pleased with the way that we battled in the first half.”
- Texas A&M head coach G Guerrieri

In the 64th minute, Arkansas was back in striking distance, pressing deep into Aggie territory as they attempted to add to their lead. The Arkansas offense was trying to get off another shot deep in the box when an Arkansas forward jumped for the ball and collided with goalkeeper Shantel Hutton. Hutton, a two time SEC freshman of the week winner and a key player in the Aggies’ starting lineup, appeared to suffer a hard blow to her head and neck area.

After colliding with an aggressive Arkansas defender, Hutton remained motionless on the turf and was eventually carted from the field to receive additional medical attention. With their injured teammate removed from the game, the team appeared shaken. As play resumed, the Aggies looked subdued, playing without their characteristic sharpness and urgency.

The Aggie’s defense continued to hold against a persistent Arkansas offense, preventing any additional scoring opportunities. The Aggie offense struggled to regain their momentum and find traction as the clock wound down on the final minutes of the match.

While the loss is certainly not what the Aggies were hoping for, A&M head coach G Guerrieri was pleased with the way his team battled back against some serious obstacles while facing the talented Arkansas squad. 

“Arkansas brought the fight,” said Guerrieri. “I was pleased with the way that we battled in the first half. They scored goals the way Arkansas scores goals. We knew that they were going to be dangerous on set pieces. They scored on two set-pieces. I’m disappointed that we gave up those opportunities and didn’t do well on it.

“You could tell that our spirit was really hurt when they hurt our goalkeeper. I thought our players did a good job of playing themselves back into it after the initial shock of what happened to Shan.”

Center back Briana Alston, who was named SEC Defensive Player of the Week for her efforts against Auburn last week, believes the team will bounce back from their first home loss of the season.

“We have incredible spirit and motivation, so this is a minor setback for a major comeback,” said Alston. “We already have our sights set on next week to come out and give a hundred percent effort to build off of each other.”

The Aggies will be back in action when they face off with Vanderbilt in Nashville on Thursday.

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Texas A&M falls 3-1 in ranked matchup with Arkansas at Ellis Field

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