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Photo by Angelina Alcantar, TexAgs
Texas A&M Soccer

Ally Watt's golden-goal heroics lift Ags past Vanderbilt, 2-1

October 25, 2019

No. 22 ranked Texas A&M soccer defeated Vanderbilt 2-1 in a double-overtime thriller in their final road match of the regular season on Thursday.

As the season draws to a close, the field for the SEC crown continues to narrow. The Aggies and Commodores sit solidly in fourth in a close race just behind Arkansas, Florida and South Carolina. With a chance to stay in contention for the conference title on the line, both teams were prepared for a close and competitive matchup.

With both teams touting identical conference records of 4-2-1 and similar histories of defensive dominance this season, the match-up promised to be a good one. Vanderbilt, coming off home wins over LSU and Missouri and a double-overtime draw on the road against No. 7 ranked South Carolina, looked like they might be poised to topple an Aggie squad battered by injuries. With a loss to a No. 8 Arkansas team fresh on their mind, the Aggies were hoping to turn the tide and take back the season. 

The high stakes matchup featured a flat start for both squads. Vanderbilt pushed the ball into Aggie territory early, but stellar efforts by the Aggies’ backline relocated the battle for possession to the midfield. The Commodores held possession in the middle third of the pitch with a stellar passing game and by creating steals, smothering the potential for any quality looks from the Aggies’ offensive squad early in the match.

Lia Musgrave, TexAgs
The Aggie offense struggled to get much going early against the Commodores.

In the thirty-eighth minute, Vanderbilt broke the ice. Commodores forward Olivia Simmons took the ball deep into Vanderbilt’s attacking third, battling it out with an Aggie defender on the end line. Simmons sent a hard cross deep into the box where it found Haley Hopkins. Hopkins, who had positioned herself at the near post, managed to get a foot on it and touch it into the goal to give the Commodores the lead.  The redshirt sophomore forward has been a potent weapon for Vanderbilt this season, dominating her opponents with eleven goals scored and earning an astounding twenty-six points on the year.

With the Commodores holding the 1-0 lead, the Aggies tried to gain some momentum offensively. In the fortieth minute, Jimena Lopez sent a high cross from deep left field to a waiting Ally Watt. Watt went up for the header but put a little too much air on the shot, knocking it over the goal to leave the Aggies scoreless.  Throughout the first half, the Aggies struggled to find any momentum on offense, only amassing three shots during the first period.

Coming out for the second half, the Aggies looked sharp, pushing deep into Vanderbilt territory and maintaining meaningful possessions.

In the seventy-third minute, the Aggies were continuing their hard press on offense. Forward Ally Watt, who had battled with a stifling Vanderbilt defense for much of the night, managed to get the ball into the box where she tangled defender Ella Shamburger. Shamburger, a standout player for the Commodores all season, fouled Watt to set up a free kick for the Aggies. Watt took the shot, sending one deep in the upper right corner of the frame to tie it up at one apiece.

With seventeen minutes left in regulation, the competition kicked up a notch. The match rapidly became more physical on both sides as the two teams pressed hard on offense in an attempt to gain an edge.  The Aggies unleashed a barrage of shots during the second half, challenging a tough Vanderbilt backline.

In the seventy-sixth minute, the Aggies were knocking on the door. With the Aggie offense in position to make a push, Ally Watt sent a cross to Ásdís Halldórsdóttir. Halldórsdótti found herself in traffic and tapped it to Macie Kolb. With pressure around her, Kolb took a shot that went high, keeping the score at one all.

Despite stellar efforts from both teams’ offenses, the Aggies and Commodores were still tied up at the conclusion of regulation, sending the two teams to overtime.

“I think it was a really good effort. We went down in the first half, but the fight that we gave in the second half and the overtimes really came through.”
- Ally Watt

With ten minutes on the clock, the first overtime period commenced. As collegiate overtime rules dictate a next-goal-wins approach, both teams notched up the intensity of their game in this sudden death match-up. In the ninety-seventh minute, Vanderbilt was in position to score.  Grace Jackson brought the ball deep into the box, evading defenders to get off a high powered shot. The shot was off frame, going high to keep the Aggies in the game. As the first overtime came to a close, the Aggies had managed one shot, spending most of the period locked in an intense battle for possession in the midfield.

The second overtime period kicked off with both teams playing at a fast and furious pace. In the one hundred and seventh minute, Vanderbilt midfielder Raegan Kelly tried to bend one in the goal with a high powered shot. It looked for a moment that the powerful ball might slip through Aggie goalkeeper Kenna Caldwell’s hands, but she fielded the shot with a fantastic save.

With under a minute left in the second overtime, the Aggies were not giving up, surging deep into Vanderbilt territory. Forward Ali Russell took the ball down the left sideline on a breakaway. With three Commodore defenders converging on her, Russell sent the ball to Ally Watt who was positioned just outside the goal box. Despite the defender plastered to her back, Watt found the pass from Russell, pivoted and sent in an incredible shot to the upper right corner of the frame over a diving goalkeeper to earn the win for the Aggies. Watt’s golden goal, her second score of the day, is her nineteenth game-winner during her career as an Aggie.

Ally Watt was proud of the team’s resilience and continued effort throughout the challenging match.

“I think it was a really good effort. We went down in the first half, but the fight that we gave in the second half and the overtimes really came through,” said Watt. “We finally got that result we wanted. We really needed this win today. The girls fought so hard today and I couldn’t be more proud.”

The Aggies will be back in action at Ellis Field on Sunday when they face off with the Missouri Tigers.

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Ally Watt's golden-goal heroics lift Ags past Vanderbilt, 2-1

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