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Texas A&M Soccer

A&M soccer suffers SEC Tournament exit in first game, falling to Florida, 2-1

November 6, 2019
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No. 16 ranked Texas A&M soccer fell to the Florida Gators 2-1 in a close matchup during the quarterfinals round of the SEC tournament on Tuesday.

Receiving the four and five seed spots respectively in tournament rankings, A&M and Florida earned first-round byes in tournament play and were primed for action in Orange Beach. With both the SEC Forward of the year in Ally Watt and the SEC Midfielder of the year in Jimena Lopez in the starting lineup for A&M, Florida certainly had their work cut out for them. T

After a tough final stretch of regular-season games which included losses to Tennessee and Georgia, the Gators were looking to make some adjustments on offense to regain their success from earlier in the season.

Following their 3-1 loss to the Gators on the road in October, the Aggies had made some adjustments of their own, shifting their backline formations to stifle the possession heavy play of the talented Gators’ attack. The Aggies, who ended the regular season at 13-3-3, were coming off strong wins over Vanderbilt, Missouri, and Ole Miss. With key players returning to the lineup after injuries, the Aggies were ready to tackle the conference competition in SEC tournament play. 

Despite the well-prepared Florida defense, the Aggies had several opportunities on offense early. In the 17th minute, midfielder Taylor Ziemer sent a deep cross to a waiting Jimena Lopez at the top of the box. Under pressure from a pair of Florida defenders, Lopez took one touch and sent in a powerful strike. The shot was on frame and looked like it would slide into the bottom left corner of the goal, but an incredible diving save by the Gators’ goalkeeper kept the Aggies off the board.

Undeterred, the Aggies were knocking on the door again in the 21st minute. Taylor Ziemer took the ball up the right sideline and into Gator territory. Feeling the pressure from Florida’s backline, Ziemer sent a hard cross to a waiting Grace Piper at the top of the box. Piper took a touch and sent in a rocket that missed slotting in the bottom corner of the frame by inches.  

The Gators broke the ice in the forty-first minute.  Florida, pushing deep into Aggie territory, pressured the Aggie backline to set up a corner kick. A Gator midfielder lobbed the set-piece into the box with a high floating ball. Florida midfielder Parker Roberts was in position to receive the kick for the Gators, angling herself efficiently in the crowded box. With a ball up in the box, Roberts perfectly timed her attack, settling the ball and immediately firing a shot in the gap between a surging Aggie defender and a diving Aggie keeper Shantel Hutton to find the back of the net for the Gators. The goal put the Gators up 1-0 with under five minutes left in the first half.

In the forty-third minute, Ásdís Halldórsdóttir took the ball up the middle, weaving through defenders to arrive at the top of the box. Under pressure, Halldórsdóttir sent the ball to  Jimena Lopez on the left side of the field. Lopez took the ball to the end line and sent a powerful swinging shot towards the box. The ball looked like it might slide in, but the angle of the shot was slightly off, instead, finding the left side of the net to leave the Aggies scoreless heading into the half.

Following the break, the Aggies and Gators continued to battle it out for possession in the midfield. In the sixty-third minute, the Gators’ offense was back on the prowl, pressuring the Aggies’ backline. After a set-piece opportunity allowed the Gators to set up shop deep in their attacking third, the Gators held possession in the box, spreading the ball around and looking for any opportunity to knock one in. A touch from senior midfield Sammie Betters found one of the Gator’s most dangerous offensive weapons, forward Vanessa Kara, positioned on the backline.

Kara took the ball into the box, attempting to tap it past an off-balance Shantel Hutton. A falling Hutton managed to get a hand on the shot, juggling the ball before swatting it out of goal with her glove. Jordan Hill was able to clear the ball, but an official sighted the ball as having passed over the goal line during Hutton’s save. The goal gave the Gators the two-goal lead with a little under thirty minutes of playing time remaining.

Despite the deficit, the Aggies were still in the game. In the eighty-first minute, the Aggies were surging on offense, looking to find a way to get on the board and level the score. Jimena Lopez was tripped up by a Gator defense to set up a free-kick for the Aggies just outside the left corner of the box. Forward Ally Watt stepped up to take the penalty kick and unleashed a powerful bending ball into the box. The shot was perfectly placed, sliding over the wall of defenders and curving into the top right corner of the goal over to find the back of the net.

With nine minutes of regulation left and the momentum swinging in their favor, the Aggies’ score breathed new life into the team. A&M packed their attacking third, launching an all-out offensive attack in search of the equalizer. 

In the eighty-sixth minute, forward Taylor Ziemer battled her way into the box, split two defenders, and unleashed a hard shot towards the bottom left corner of the goal. A Gator defender managed to get her body in front of the shot to deflect it and sent it wide.

Despite a stellar comeback effort, time expired before the Aggies had found a way to convert on a second score. The loss ends A&M’s SEC Tournament title hopes for the season. While conference play has come to an end for A&M, the Aggies now wait for NCAA Tournament selections to determine their spot in a sixty-four team field.

Discussion from...

A&M soccer suffers SEC Tournament exit in first game, falling to Florida, 2-1

5,666 Views | 9 Replies | Last: 6 mo ago by sharpdressedman
greg.w.h
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AG
Sorry to hear this. Looking forward to hearing about NCAA Women's "College Cup" Tournament seeding.

I recognize Florida fields competitive teams in practically every sport similar to Stanford (without the domination). I hoped when we joined the SEC we would recognize that competing with Florida would be challenging and propel us forward. We need to start cracking the code on consistently executing against them when we play.
MallalieuAg
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Was Florida ranked?
greg.w.h
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We were the 4th seed in the tournament and they were the 5th. They've had seven losses overall and three in conference this year and are not ranked.
Rongagin71
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I only follow soccer occasionally, and had thought we were a lock to be in the NCAA playoffs.
Do we still get in?
cavscout96
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AG
yes. I think at stake was a hosting opportunity. Not sure that will happen with the 1st round loss
Expert Analysis
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AG
cavscout96 said:

yes. I think at stake was a hosting opportunity. Not sure that will happen with the 1st round loss
We are still in good position to host the first round. There are 32 hosts.
We will be hosting Friday night at 7pm if we are selected.
mullokmotx
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AG
I haven't seen the latest RPI, but ours was 22 after Tuesday. With 32 first round host sites we are 99.99% certain to host the first round. I would not be surprised to see the other team wearing orange or green.
AgEfan
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I can't figure this team out
sharpdressedman
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Excellent article!
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