COLLEGE STATION, Texas- The 4th-ranked Texas A&M soccer team (6-1-1) scored four goals in the first half and two in the second to send the Rice Owls (5-3-1) home with a 6-0 loss Sunday evening at Aggie Soccer Stadium.
“There are a lot of things that I’m pleased with tonight,” A&M head coach G Guerrieri said. “Starting with the shutout, that’s always a good thing. Rice is a team with a very good record and they have done very well in their region. They are a team that is always in the mix with Conference USA and always a team we could see in the postseason. To be able to come out with a result like this is pleasing for us.”
Senior captain Melissa Garey would contribute two of the Aggies six goals, her first being the game-winner in the eighth minute of the match. Freshman Rachel Shipley dribbled down the left flank and connected with Garey just outside the Owl penalty area. Rice keeper Meghan Erkel sprinted out of the goal trying to make a save but Garey quickly laced her shot just to the left of Erkel putting A&M up 1-0.
Ashlee Pistorius would also contribute two goals to the Aggie attack. The All-American forward logged A&M’s second and third goals of the match in the 22nd and 38th minutes bringing her within 14 of tying the Aggie career record for most goals.
Rounding out the scoring for the first half was defender Nicole Ketchum who with just nine seconds left on the clock received a long pass from Micah Stephens in the midfield circle and planted the ball in the back of the goal from the six-yard mark.
The Aggies outshot the Owls 11-3 in the first half and took five corners to Rice’s zero.
Much like in the first half, A&M set and controlled the tempo of the game in the second 45 minutes of play.
“We talked at half that even though we’re up 4-0, and we scored four real quality goals we didn’t really set up as many chances,” Guerrieri noted. “We put some challenges to our players at half and they came out and even though we only scored two in the second half, we set up many more chances. I was real pleased with the effort and just the competitive nature for every single ball.”
Freshman speedster Whitney Hooper made a beeline towards the goal and was fouled just outside the penalty box. Garey would net her second of goal of the night off the direct free kick, bending the ball into the right post in the 70th minute, bringing her season total to three and increasing A&M’s lead to 5-0.
With 12 minutes remaining in regulation, junior midfielder Laura Grace Robinson gained control of the ball and dribbled through the Owl defense, drawing back-up keeper Catherine Fitzsimmons out the goal. Robinson drilled a shot from about 15 yards out to seal A&M’s fifth shutout of the year.
In a very technically sound and physically competitive match, the two teams combined for only seven fouls on the night. A&M totaled 20 shots to Rice’s five. Both teams used two goalkeepers on the evening and all four managed a save each.
“There's a reason A&M is top five in the nation,” Rice head coach Chris Huston said. “I think they played well and they had great chances and they created so many good chances. I think the reason they are in the top five is that they finish those chances. They did a great job."
The Aggies will begin the road to defending their back-to-back-to-back Big 12 titles as they head to Columbia, Mo. on Friday to open conference play against the Missouri Tigers. The match is set to begin at 6:30 p.m.
Shots by period 1 2 Total
RICE 3 2 5
Texas A&M 11 9 20
Corner kicks 1 2 Total
RICE 0 1 1
Texas A&M 5 1 6
Saves by period 1 2 Total
RICE 1 1 2
Texas A&M 1 1 2
Fouls 1 2 Total
RICE 2 1 3
Texas A&M 1 3 4