Photo by Elisabeth Schmitt, TexAgs
Texas A&M Soccer

Aggie soccer's season comes to an end with 2-1 loss to USC in NCAA Tournament

November 22, 2019

The No. 22 ranked Texas A&M Aggies fell to the No. 9 ranked USC Trojans, 2-1, on Friday in a tight NCAA second round showdown in Los Angeles. 

After defeating the Longhorns in the first round of tournament play at Ellis Field last Friday, the Aggies headed to sunny, southern California to take on USC. The Trojans, who are 15-4-1 on the season, were a familiar opponent for the Aggies. The two teams faced off in 2016 when the Trojans downed the Aggies en route to a national title. USC looked dominant early in the season, but stumbled down the final stretch, going 3-2 in their last five matches. With time before postseason play to rest their injured key players, the Trojans looked sharp in the first round of the tournament, downing Cal State Fullerton, 5-1. 

Following a 14-4-3 season, the Aggies were advancing to their 22nd consecutive second round, a streak bested only by perineal powerhouses North Carolina and Virginia. The Aggies, who punched their ticket to the second round of play following a 4-1 blowout win over Texas, were looking to continue their stretch of offensive brilliance into tournament play.

With both teams boasting stout backline rotations and high octane offenses, the high stakes match-up promised to be a close one. 

The Aggies got off to a fast start, pushing the ball into USC’s attacking third to apply pressure early. The Trojans’ backline managed to contain the offensive surge, and the Trojans applied pressure of their own, battling the Aggies for possession early. 

Elisabeth Schmitt, TexAgs
Jimena Lopez assisted on the Aggies’ lone goal against the Trojans.

In the seventh minute, USC managed to break through the Aggies’ backline. Sophomore forward Penelope Hocking, the Trojans’ point leader on the season, found the ball in the midfield and picked her way down the left sideline. Feeling pressure from the Aggie defense as she made it to the backline, Hocking sent the ball into the six-yard box for a waiting Natalie Jacobs. Two Aggie defenders anticipated the move, converging on the ball and colliding with each other and a sliding Jacobs in their efforts to clear it. A staggering Jacobs got off a second shot. The ball deflected off a defender, floating up in the box to a well-positioned Tara McKeown. McKeown, the Pac-12 Forward of the year, took advantage of the open field left by the downed players and slid a shot in the bottom right corner of the frame behind a diving Aggie keeper. 

In the thirty-third minute, the Trojans added to their lead. Midfielder Natalie Jacobs picked an Aggie defender’s pocket and pushed deep into an open Aggie backfield. Jacobs took the ball to the box, crossing it to an unguarded Penelope Hocking waiting in the box. Hocking, who has managed to amass five goals in the span of her last two games, settled the ball and sent in a left-footed shot. The ball found the bottom left corner of the goal to give USC the 2-1 lead heading into half time. 

In the first period of the game, the Aggies’ offense had struggled to close, tallying only one shot on goal. The offensive front successfully maintained possession in the first half but was unable to finish their attack. 

Coming back from the break, the Aggies looked like a completely different squad, playing with fierceness and urgency. 

It did not take long for the statsheet to reflect the Aggies’ newfound efficiency. In the forty-ninth minute, the Aggies were knocking on the door. Defender Katie Smith won a battle for possession in the midfield and made her way up the field. Smith took the ball deep into the box, sending a short cross to Jimena Lopez. The pass found Lopez in stride. The midfielder sent a high powered shot into the six-yard box where a waiting Ally Watt headered it in for a score to put the Aggies on the board. With the assist, Lopez became the new Aggie record holder in single-season assists with an outstanding fifteen on the year. 

Having slashed the deficit in half, the Aggies continued to roll on offense as they looked for the equalizer. Pressure on USC’s backline came in a multitude of forms as the Aggies’ three forward front and high powered midfielders badgered the Trojan defense with a barrage of shots. 

In the fifty-first minute, Ally Watt, under pressure from the Trojan’s defense, sent a high powered cross shot in from deep right field. USC’s goalkeeper was able to get a hand on it, deflecting it down into the box. Forward Ásdís Halldórsdóttir was there to finish the offensive press, but the Trojan’s goalkeeper recovered, smothering the ball before Halldórsdóttir could get there. 

“If you don’t win the national championship, you’re always disappointed when your season comes to an end. But these young women have a lot to be proud of.”
- G Guerrieri

In the fifty-eighth minute, Addie McCain cleared a ball from Aggie territory, sending it to a waiting Ally Watt. Watt, in a footrace with two defenders, took the ball deep into USC territory. With no good angle for a shot, Watt sent a cross to Taylor Ziemer. The shot was well-positioned, but had too much power on it, going out of bounds before Ziemer could get to it. 

In the seventy-eighth minute, Macie Kolb found the ball in space. Kolb pressed deep into the Aggie’s attacking third, getting off a huge shot that went high and missed finding the back of the net by inches. 

With the offense finding their stride, the Aggies continued to put pressure on USC, tallying fourteen shots and seven on goal in the second period. With the backline holding strong and the offense rolling, the Aggies looked like they might find their equalizer in the final ten minutes of the match. As the clock wound down, the Aggie offense got off several close shots, but the Trojans managed to hang on to their one point lead to secure their berth to the Sweet Sixteen. 

While the season-ending loss is disappointing for the Aggies, A&M head coach G Guerrieri believes their performance this season has been one to be proud of. 

“If you don’t win the national championship, you’re always disappointed when your season comes to an end. But these young women have a lot to be proud of. I’m proud of how well they fought all season and how hard they fought today. It sounds cliché, but today we just ran out of time. Another 10 minutes and we likely one or two more, but it’s a 90-minute match,” said Guerrieri. 

“The stats tell you everything. We outshot them 21-9 and we had the advantage in shots-on-goal [8-3] but USC had two golden opportunities in the first half and they finished. This was a match about who could finish their scoring opportunities and USC won because they did.”

Discussion from...

Aggie soccer's season comes to an end with 2-1 loss to USC in NCAA Tournament

5,885 Views | 3 Replies | Last: 9 mo ago by sharpdressedman
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You might want to recheck the player who lost the ball that led to USC's second goal.
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well i guess another 23 yrs or so we mite have a nc, when is anyone or anybody ever going to call for this coach to step down or be fired.
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oldfart79 said:

well i guess another 23 yrs or so we mite have a nc, when is anyone or anybody ever going to call for this coach to step down or be fired.
It's likely as good as its going to be, which is excellent but not elite.

I seriously doubt we could replace G with someone who can successfully recruit nationally elite talent to College Station. Those players want to compete for championships on the national stage, so they go where it happens on at least a somewhat regular basis.

Ours is a highly respected program that occasionally sniffs the top 10. It is what it is, as they say, but it could be a lot worse.

Be very proud of what we have.
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