COLLEGE STATION -- Eighth-ranked Texas A&M travels to the Big 12 Soccer Championship in San Antonio, Texas, this week. The Aggies enter the conference tournament as the No. 2 seed and take on No. 7-seeded Kansas on Wednesday, Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m. at the Blossom Soccer Stadium.
The championship is single elimination and continues with the semifinals on Friday, Nov. 7 and the finals on Sunday, Nov. 9.
The Aggies are 15-3-1 overall and 7-2-1 in Big 12 play and enter the championship after defeating Houston Baptist, 6-2, in their last regular season home game. Sophomore Alyssa Mautz recorded her first career hat-trick and added two assists for a career-high eight points to lead A&M. Sophomore Whitney Hooper netted two goals and contributed two assists for a career-best six points. Freshman Beth West had one goal and one assist for another career performance with three points.
A&M outscored its opponents 46-17 this season and brings a very balanced attack with nine players who have four goals or more. Eight Aggies have at least 11 points, and sophomore Rachel Shipley leads the way with 16. The midfielder tallied two assists against HBU and posts a team-high eight assists. Freshman Becca Herrera is right behind Shipley with seven assists.
Freshman Bri Young has a team-leading six goals and sophomore Whitney Hooper, senior Laura Grace Robinson and freshman Jennifer Kmezich have five each. Sophomore Kelly Dyer is the mainstay at goalkeeper with a .837 save percentage and a 0.76 goals-against average.
The Aggies take on Kansas on Wednesday and with a victory face the winner of the Missouri and Texas match on Friday at 7:30 p.m. The finals are held Sunday at noon.
FOLLOW THE ACTION
Free live audio for all of A&M’s games can be found on AggieAthletics.com. For information on the Big 12 Soccer Championship, log on to Big12Sports.com. Free live stats, video and audio are available on the conference website for the quarterfinal and semifinal matches. Sunday’s championship game is televised live by FSN at noon. Fox Soccer Channel will also have a delay airing of the match on Wednesday, Nov. 12 at 7 p.m.
A&M AT THE BIG 12 CHAMPIONSHIP
This year marks A&M’s 12th-consecutive trip to the Big 12 Championship, which is in its 12th year of existence. The Ags own a 19-7-2 all-time record at the championship and join Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma State as one of just four teams that have won a Big 12 tournament title. The last time A&M brought home a tournament trophy was in 2005 after defeating Missouri, Nebraska and Colorado. In 2007, the team advanced past Iowa State on penalty kicks and defeated Mizzou, 4-1, before falling to the Longhorns, 2-1, in the finals.
A&M is 4-2-1 this season against the seven other teams in the tournament. The Aggies lead the all-time series against each team as follows: Kansas (10-2-1), Missouri (11-6-1), Texas (17-5-1), Colorado (16-1-1), Nebraska (14-10-0), Oklahoma State (13-0-2) and Texas Tech (14-1).
Five Aggies earned Big 12 postseason awards this week. Dyer was named to the All-Big 12 first team, junior Amber Gnatzig and Young were selected to the All-Big 12 second team and Herrera, West and Young earned spots on the Big 12 All-Newcomer team.
ACADEMIC ALL-BIG 12
Four Aggies were named to the 2008 Academic All-Big 12 first team, including sophomore Inge Harding, junior Emily Peterson, Robinson and Shipley. First team members consist of those who have maintained a 3.20 or better GPA.
COSIDA ACADEMIC ALL-DISTRICT
Peterson and Robinson were also selected to the ESPN the Magazine Academic All-District Women’s Soccer Team. Peterson carries a 3.96 cumulative grade point average as a finance major and was named to the Academic-All District first team. Robinson earned academic honors on the second team with a 3.78 GPA as a finance and accounting double major in the Mays Business School Honors Program.
The Jayhawks are 11-7-1 overall and finished 7th in the conference standings after a 6-0 loss to Missouri on Oct. 31. KU is led by Monica Dolinsky with a team-high eight goals and 22 points. Jessica Bush is the team leader with seven assists and Emily Cressy and Shannon McCabe both tally 17 points. Four Jayhawks have five goals or more. Julie Hanley is in goal with a 1.46 goals-against average and a .684 save percentage.
Head Coach Mark Francis is in his 10th season at KU with an overall record of 115-77-14. He led the program to its first three NCAA Tournament appearances and helped the team to its sole soccer conference championship in 2004.
VERSUS THE JAYHAWKS
Texas A&M is 10-2-1 against Kansas all time. The Jayhawks defeated the Aggies in Lawrence, Kan., 1-0, earlier this year. McCabe found the back of the net on a cross in the first half and A&M could not answer, putting just three shots on frame. The Aggies outscored the Jayhawks 41-9 in 13 contests.
NCAA SELECTION SHOW
While the winner of the Big 12 Championship receives an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, the NCAA selection show is set for Monday, Nov. 10 between 7-7:30 p.m. CT on ESPNews.
THE LONE RANGER
A&M was the lone team in the conference without a travel partner this season and the Aggies ended the regular season second in the league – the best finish that any team without a travel partner ever has in the Big 12.
A&M is ranked eighth in the top-25 polls and holds the same ranking in the NCAA Women’s Soccer Ratings Percentage Index (RPI). UCLA, North Carolina, Stanford, Florida State and Portland are listed as the top five. The Aggies are the highest ranked Big 12 program. Oklahoma State (13th), Texas (16th) and Colorado (17th) are listed in the top 20.
BIG 12 PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Mautz was named the Big 12 Newcomer Player of the Week on Nov. 3, marking A&M’s 10th Big 12 Player of the Week this season. This team effort breaks the Aggies’ previous record of six such honors in one season.
A&M boasts one of the youngest starting lineups in the nation as five freshmen and three sophomores are amidst the 11 starters on the field. The Aggies have just two seniors on the squad.