COLLEGE STATION, Texas- The 5th-ranked Texas A&M soccer team (11-2-1, 5-1-0 Big 12) posted four goals in a 13-minute span in the second half to earn a 4-2 victory over the Colorado Buffaloes (7-4-3, 3-3-0 Big 12) on a windy afternoon at the Aggie Soccer Stadium.
Sophomore midfielder Amber Gnatzig headed home the gamewinner in the 73rd minute off a corner kick from the Big 12’s leading scorer, Ashlee Pistorius. A wave of shots by the Aggie offense caused CU keeper, Kristin Radlinski to beat the ball over the goal line, setting up Pistorius’ corner from the left side.
"We had a lot of worries coming into this game. We played with so much emotion and a lot of our players played 90 minutes against Texas on Friday,” A&M head coach G Guerrieri said. “And then we gambled to go against the strong wind in the first half. We weren't as sharp as we needed to be and Colorado is a good team that's going to burn you if you let down.”
Colorado took a 2-0 lead into the lockerroom at halftime after Nikki Keller connected with Allison Kidd at the top of the six-yard box in the 28th minute and then CU’s leading scorer Nikki Marshall split the Aggie defense in the 42nd minute for her eighth goal of the season.
“We had two letdowns that allowed them to get into a little bit of a rhythm and they scored twice on us,” Guerrieri said. “At halftime we challenged the players on what they wanted out of this game. It was more about what the players did and their heart, to come back and win in a tough situation than the coaching."
The second half belonged to the Aggies as A&M fired 17 shots and held Colorado to just one.
Senior captain Melissa Garey started A&M’s scoring drive as she and a Buffalo defender trapped the ball between themselves near the right sideline. Garey’s persistence paid off as she won possession and sent a hard shot into the left side netting to bring A&M a goal closer to tying the match.
"I think when we scored that first goal the players just believed,” Guerrieri noted. “There's a lot of belief in each other and when Melissa scored that first goal that was the spark. A lot of what we do is keyed off of her energy and her personality, so when she goes out and scores the first one it's always going to be a boost for the rest of the team."
Pistorius would net the equalizer just four minutes later when freshman Rachel Shipley received a pass from Micah Stephens about 25 yards out and dribbled to the top of the CU penalty area. Shipley then played a through ball into Pistorius who squared up and drove her 15th goal of the season past a diving Radlinski.
With the game locked at two-all, it was Gnatzig’s time to shine, scoring her second goal of the season.
Shipley would contribute to the Aggie scoring surge once more as the Plano, Texas native sealed the Aggies’ 4-2 victory from point blank range in the 79th minute. Amy Berend took the ball deep down the right flank and spinning around, Berend lined the ball back in front of the goal where Radlinski tried to clear it but Shipley was waiting to put away her first collegiate goal.
A&M controlled the pace of the game with its attack, taking 26 shots on the afternoon and 12 corner kicks while holding Colorado to six shots and just one corner.
"You can see how big a deal every game in the Big 12 is,” Guerrieri ended. “Sundays are often championship games because teams are always going to be prepared and physically ready to go on Friday nights but Sunday is always the big test to see what you can do."
The Aggies will head to Ames, Iowa this week to face the Iowa State Cyclones on Friday at the ISU Soccer Complex. Game time is set for 7 p.m.
Shots by period 1 2 Total
Colorado 5 1 6
Texas A&M 9 17 26
Corner kicks 1 2 Total
Colorado 1 0 1
Texas A&M 2 10 12
Saves by period 1 2 Total
Colorado 2 4 6
Texas A&M 2 1 3
Fouls 1 2 Total
Colorado 9 3 12
Texas A&M 1 4 5
No. Time Team Goal scorer Assist
1. 27:32 CU Allison Kidd (2) Nikki Keller
2. 41:52 CU Nikki Marshall (8) (unassisted)
3. 65:04 TAMU Garey, Melissa (4) (unassisted)
4. 69:38 TAMU Pistorius, Ashlee (15) Shipley, Rachel
5. 72:25 TAMU Gnatzig, Amber (2) Pistorius, Ashlee
6. 78:03 TAMU Shipley, Rachel (1) Berend, Amy