COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The 10th-ranked Texas A&M Soccer team extended its school-record shutout streak to six consecutive games with a 2-0 win over defending Southeastern Conference regular-season champion South Carolina at Ellis Field in the SEC home debut for the Aggies.
Texas A&M (9-1-0, 3-0-0) notched its eighth consecutive win, the Aggies’ longest streak since Sept. 26-Oct. 24, 2010, and extended its lead in the SEC Western Division to five points. A&M and Missouri are the only two teams to earn wins in all three of their SEC games and earn all nine points on the season. Alabama is second in the Western Division with four points.
The Aggies got the only goal they would need in the 25th minute of action. For the third consecutive game, Texas A&M scored off a set piece. This time Jayne Eadie sent a corner kick in from the right corner arc. Meghan Streight got her head on the ball at the top of the goal area and sent into the left netting from six yards out for the 1-0 advantage.
Before breaking the scoring seal, Texas A&M had a handful of scoring chances early in the game that did not pan out. Streight took a pair of shots from close range in the sixth minute of action with one shot blocked and the other shot cleared off the goal line by a South Carolina defender. Eadie hit the crossbar on a driven free kick from 30 yards out in the 18th minute.
The Aggies’ two missed scoring opportunities early in the first half were sandwiched around a great goalkeeping save by Jordan Day. In the seventh minute, the Gamecocks’ Rae Wilson launched a shot from point blank range while on the ground, but Day’s cat-like reflexes resulted in the save.
South Carolina (3-4-2, 0-2-1 SEC) put itself behind the eight ball in the 41st minute when Christa Neary was issued her second yellow card of the game and the resulting red card. The Gamecocks spent the last 59 minutes with 10 players on the pitch.
The Gamecocks made their last stand in the 64th minute. After Day was unable to corral a free kick into the penalty box form 40 yards out, South Carolina’s Ali Whitney gained control of the ball and sent it goalward, but Karlie Mueller kept the shutout in tact with a defensive save.
Texas A&M added an insurance goal later in the 64th minute with Annie Kunz team-leading seventh goal of the season. After a scrum broke up in front of the goal, Chelsea Jones collected the loose ball on the left side of the penalty box and worked her way to the end line. Jones chipped a pass towards the top of the goal box where it found the head of Kunz. The Golden, Colo.-native knocked the ball right of the netminder for the 2-0 lead.
The Aggies withstood the aggressive style of the Gamecocks and owned a 17-6 shooting advantage for the game, including 8-1 in the second stanza.
Day made one save and earned her seventh shutout of the season. She lowered her goals-against average on the season to 0.30.
Texas A&M return to Ellis Field on Sunday for a 1:30 p.m. contest against the Auburn Tigers. With a win against the Tigers, the Aggies would have their longest win streak since stringing together 10 in a row in 2007.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach G Guerrieri
On starting slowly: I thought our first five minutes were really good, but then they kind of knocked our legs out from under us. It got a little bit chippy for a while until we scored the goal. That let us play with a little bit more confidence. We talked at halftime about how towards the latter half of the first period we started to play franticly. We wanted to play with more poise and confidence. We were able to keep them at bay because we were able to hold the ball.
On playing most of the game a man up: We changed our shape a little bit just to try and stretch them. We were wondering where they would take a risk because they were down a player. We knew that there would be open spaces. We just wanted to spread the ball out a little bit more. Players like Beth West and her poise on the ball. Chelsea Jones coming in and making an immediate impact on the serve to Annie was just how we drew it up.
On the physicality: [Meghan] can handle it. Jayne’s tough. Jayne can handle it. We’ve got a lot of players that can deal with it. We’ve got other players who are teeny-tiny. Everyone has to know their role. In the first half, I thought we were a little bit frantic; in the second half, we didn’t allow that to happen. We battled for balls and then quickly got the second ball under control and allowed us to play out of it.
On the shutout streak: It’s special. The back line is playing well. Even if a player has a bad spell of 20 minutes, the other three that are back there are doing a great job of picking up the slack. I thought we’ve been defending a lot better in the midfield. That’s key to a lot of the things we’re trying to do. Our midfield has been able to keep the other team at bay which makes it difficult for them to try and get any other balls behind us.
On Jordan Day’s play: I think the team has done a good job. Jordan has done a good job. The teams that have scored against us have had some amazing shots and crazy bounces. If that’s going to be the case that Jordan isn’t going to give up soft goals and the backline is going to be able to cover for her then we’re not going to give up many goals.
Sophomore forward Annie Kunz
On starting 3-0 in the SEC: We’re starting off on the right foot going into the SEC. We’ve got three wins under our belt against three really good SEC teams. I think we’re heading in the right direction as we move toward the end of the season and playoffs.
On her goal: I was really excited. I’ve been working on trying to get my headers down. I have the height, I just need to work on my technique. I was really excited when it happened. It was a perfect pass from Chelsea (Jones), all I had to do was get a head on it.
On her ball control: I definitely wasn’t that good at it last year so I’ve been trying to work on that. I’ve been working on my technique so we can hold on to the ball and get it back to the midfielders. It’s definitely something I’ve been improving on.
On the Sunday game against Auburn: This weekend is definitely a physical one. South Carolina and Auburn are both really physical in games. We just need to keep playing the way we’re playing and I don’t think we’ll have any problems.
Sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Day
On the six straight shutouts: I have to give so much credit to our defense. They’ve been doing so well in not allowing the other team to get off good shots. They’ve been really hard and powerful in their tackles and high balls. They’ve made life a lot easier on me by not having to make as many saves because they’re doing the work for me.
On her save: I was pretty scared on the one in the first half. The ball was really close when she shot it. I just reacted to it. I’m glad I got it.
On Sunday’s game against Auburn: I think we’re doing really well. I think our team has so much more confidence as we keep playing teams like this. Since today was such a physical game, our confidence keeps rising because we know that whoever comes in here, we have a chance to beat them.