Photo by Angelina Alcantar, TexAgs
Texas A&M Soccer

Watt's four-goal performance lifts Aggies past Mizzou at Ellis Field

October 27, 2019
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The No. 22 Texas A&M Aggies earned a dominant 5-3 win over the Missouri Tigers on Sunday. With cool fall weather notching up the home crowd’s enthusiasm at Ellis Field, the Aggies enjoyed a successful Sunday on the pitch.

In their final stretch of games, the Aggies are looking to catch the front runners in the SEC title race. Coming off a double-overtime win against Vanderbilt, the Aggies are sitting in fourth behind Arkansas, South Carolina, and Florida.

With several of their key offensive players returning to the lineup, A&M was looking for a dominant win over their longtime conference rivals to help stake their claim for the SEC crown. In addition to the two schools’ shared history of conference play in both the Big XII and the SEC, the two teams share a link through their coaches. A&M head coach G Guerrieri and Missouri‘s leader Bryan Blitz met during their times with the Tulsa soccer program. The two, who have become two of the winningest coaches in the SEC, share a long-time rivalry, resulting in some entertaining matchups over the years.

The Missouri Tigers were in dire need of some rivalry magic. The Tigers, who started the year win a five-match win streak, have struggled against a challenging SEC field. Heading into the match, the Tigers had posted a 7-8-1 record on the season and desperately needed a win to be in contention for an SEC tournament invitation.

Angelina Alcantar, TexAgs
Jimena Lopez was a key part of the Aggies’ netting five goals on Sunday. 

The Aggies started the match sluggishly, lacking their characteristic sharp passes and the powerful drives down the pitch early. In the third minute, Missouri broke the ice, taking advantage of the Aggies’ slow start. When a jump ball deflected off the back of an Aggie defender’s head in the midfield, the Tigers were in a position to take advantage of the opportunity. Sarah Luebbert, the Tigers’ leading scorer this season, fielded the ball at the top of the box, taking it to the corner of the box and sliding one in behind a diving Aggie keeper. The star senior forward played well in the Tigers’ loss, consistently challenging the Aggies’ backline with her speed and elusiveness.  

With the Tigers up early, the Aggies began to find their rhythm on offense. In the sixteenth minute, Aggie defender Katie Smith stole the ball from a Tiger forward, turning upfield and sending it to junior Addie McCain. McCain took it down the line, crossing it to Ally Watt as she was challenged by a Tiger defender. Watt was well-positioned in the box and easily tapped it in behind Missouri’s keeper for the tiebreaker. Having put themselves on the board, the Aggies found their stride and never looked back, holding the momentum for the rest of the first half.

With the Aggies on the board, it looked like A&M’s offense might add to their lead. In the eighteenth minute, Ally Watt found the ball again, taking it deep into A&M’s attacking third. With the defenders swarming her, the talented forward crossed it to midfielder Jimena Lopez. Lopez tried to send it in, but a Tiger defender managed to get her body in front of it to block the shot.

In the twenty-first minute, the Aggies’ backline cleared a shot from the Tiger offense, sending a ball to midfielder Addie McCain. McCain sent the ball out wide for a surging Ally Watt.

Angelina Alcantar, TexAgs
Ally Watt finished the game with four goals on Sunday. 

Watt powered past a defender, took a touch in the box, and sent a high powered cross that found the back of the net to put the Aggies up 2-1.

With the offense finding its groove, the Aggies continued to press to increase their lead before halftime. In the forty-fourth minute, forward Rheagen Smith took the ball out wide, working her way down the sideline deep into Tiger territory. With the Tigers’ defense in coverage, Smith crossed the ball to a waiting Tera Ziemer at the top of the box. Ziemer fielded the pass and sent in a great shot to give the Aggies the 3-1 lead heading into the break.

Heading into the second half, the Aggies did not wait long to continue their press on offense. In the fiftieth minute, the Aggies had prime position to add to their lead. Forward Ásdís Halldórsdóttir took a corner kick for the Aggies, sending an arching cross deep into the box. Ally Watt went up for the ball in traffic, bending in a shot by the near post with a fantastic header. With the score, Watt earned a hat trick on the day, the second of her career.

Despite already having the hat trick in the bag, Watt was not finished, adding a fourth goal in the fifty-sixth minute.  Fittingly, Addie McCain, who had two assists on the day, did the honors, drilling a deep ball up to a waiting Watt. Watt found the ball in space, turning up the field on a breakaway. With the Tiger’s defenders giving the chase, Watt sent a powerful, left-footed shot from outside the eighteen-yard box. The cross-shot grazed the upper right goalpost before sliding in behind a diving Missouri goalkeeper.

Watt’s spectacular day is not the first time she has subdued the Tigers. When the Aggies last faced off with the Tigers in 2017, Watt earned four goals in that match as well. Her four score performance in the SEC quarterfinals was an A&M record-tying performance, one she duplicated in Sunday’s standout game. Watt’s four scores put her at fourteen goals on the season and move her to the top of the SEC goal leaders list.

The Aggie’s high powered offense came at the wrong time for the battered Tigers. The Tigers’ goalkeeper rotation had been decimated by injuries throughout the season, resulting in Missouri student and former club soccer player at the university, Gillian Schulte, joining the squad in relief to help the Tigers wrap up the season. The Aggies certainly kept the inexperienced keeper on her toes during the match, totaling twenty-six shots throughout the game.

Missouri managed to gain some momentum on offense late in the second half. In the sixty-first minute, Luebbert drew a foul in the box as she pressed deep into Aggie territory. The foul set up a free-kick for the Tigers. Forward Julissa Cisneros took the set-piece, faking Aggie keeper Kenna Caldwell and sending a hard shot through the bottom left corner to give the Tiger’s offense some much-needed momentum.

With the score, the Tigers gained some traction on offense and began to consistently press the ball further into their attacking third. In the seventy-eighth minute, Luebbert brought the ball deep into Aggie territory, battling with a defender on the right end line. Luebbert sent a cross to a waiting Cisneros in the six-yard box. Cisneros took the shot which was blocked by an Aggie defender in traffic. As an Aggie defender went to clear the ball, the blocked shot took an unexpected hop and deflected off her foot to find the back of the Aggie’s goal, putting the score at 5-3.

With their recent offensive success leaving them only down by two, the Tigers were doubling down on offense as the clock wound down. Stellar play by the Aggies’ backline and midfield regained control of possession during the final minutes, stifling any hope for a Tiger comeback.

A&M head coach G Guerrieri was proud of his team for their offensive performance during this last stretch of the season.

 “Ally Watt with six goals on the weekend [four against Missouri and two against Vanderbilt] is a pretty special week, and that’s how you want your seniors and your All-Americans playing at their best as we start to move through the end of the season. All these games against Mizzou are always kind of wild like this. I don’t think we’ve ever had a boring game with them. There’s always a lot of energy,” said Guerrieri.

“This is part of the evolution of Ally Watt as a goal scorer and as a complete player. She was unmarkable today and they were clearly trying to mark her with really good athletes. . . We’re really pleased with our central midfield, especially with Addie McCain and the way she was able to orchestrate the game from there.”

Coming off the hard-fought, double-overtime win against Vanderbilt, Ally Watt was pleased with the team’s ability to perform under pressure against Missouri.

“It’s good to finally see things clicking. A lot of credit to our offense. I couldn’t get in those positions if I didn’t get those through balls and those connecting passes,” said Watt.

The Aggies will conclude their regular season at home on Thursday when they face off with Ole Miss at Ellis Field.

 
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