STATE COLLEGE, PA -- The 3rd-ranked Texas A&M soccer team (4-1-0) took control of a very physical match late in the first half to net two goals for the 2-1 victory over the 14th-ranked West Virginia Mountaineers (3-2-0) on a rainy Friday evening at Jeffrey Field on the campus of Penn State University.
“I thought it was really a difficult game. West Virginia is an excellent team,” A&M head coach G Guerrieri said. “Nikki (Izzo-Brown) really has them where they play sophisticated with the way they attack and defend. They swarm the ball and they can turn and run at you. They can defend with quality. For us to be able to break down their defense and go up 2-0 and be able to get a win especially coming up north, where it is always difficult to play and win on a cold rainy day, in this type of climate, is something I am very proud of these girls for.”
With 13 minutes left in the first half, the Aggies pushed the ball up the right side where a West Virginia defender cleared the ball out of bounds allowing an A&M throw-in near the corner. Elisabeth Jones tossed the ball in to Amber Gnatzig who passed it back to Jones. Maneuvering around a couple of Mountaineer defenders, Jones worked the ball back into Whitney Hooper who looped a shot just over an outstretched Mallory Beck into the lower left post for her first goal in an Aggie uniform, in the 32nd minute.
Hooper factored into the Aggie scoring drive again in the 42nd minute as she won a ball in the midfield and used her incredible speed to pass the defense dribbling down the right sideline. Hooper squared up and sent a hard shot towards the goal, Beck ran out trying to scoop up the ball but instead deflected it right to the feet of a crashing Cydne Currie who one-timed her first goal of the season, the game-winner, putting A&M up 2-0 heading into the half.
West Virginia came out of the locker room in full force to start the second period of play. The A&M restraining line held tight until the 87th minute when Ashley Banks ran onto a loose ball in A&M’s penalty area and launched a hard shot just to the right of Aggie keeper Kristin Arnold, brining the Mountaineers within one of tying the game. However, the Aggies regrouped and held on to the 2-1 lead for their fourth win of the young season.
“I wish we wouldn’t have given up that goal,” Guerrieri continued. “We made a series of mistakes to give up the goal. It made the end of the game a little more exciting and frantic, but it is a good learning experience for us to be able to hang on for the win.”
At the end of regulation the shots and corner kick columns remained deadlocked as both teams managed 17 shots and four corners on the evening.
“All-in-all as far as a team, we were very good,” Guerrieri ended. “With individual performances, Whitney Hooper did a great job today. She looks up sees the keeper a little off her line and chips a shot into the back side-netting. That was a big time, class goal. Then she, through sheer hustle and determination, sets up the second goal. It was a great day for the little freshman, welcome to college Whitney Hooper!”
A&M will conclude the weekend’s play on Sunday with a 12:00 p.m. game against the 15th-ranked Penn State Nittany Lions. The match will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Shots by period 1 2 Total
WVU 9 8 17
TAMU 11 6 17
Corner kicks 1 2 Total
WVU 1 3 4
TAMU 2 2 4
Saves by period 1 2 Total
WVU 1 2 3
TAMU 3 2 5
Fouls 1 2 Total
WVU 3 5 8
TAMU 6 3 9