COLLEGE STATION, Texas -- A 79th minute goal by Abby Grace Cooper sent the No. 17 Texas A&M Aggies to a 2-1 win over the Ole Miss Rebels on a chilly Halloween Senior Night at Ellis Field Thursday.
Jimena Lopez scored the icebreaker in the 59th minute for her ninth goal of the season. Ole Miss rebelled back with an equalizer two minutes later, but Cooper answered with a game winner on a corner kick.
Lopez collected another assists for her 13th on the season, tying Troy’s Kiersten Edlund and Stanford’s Catarina Macario for the national lead. She moved within one assist of the Aggies’ single-season record of 14 set by Beth West in 2011.
Jordan Hill notched her first assist on the season and the fifth of her career. Taylor Ziemer collected her second assist on the year.
The Maroon & White owned large advantages in shots (22-10) and shots-on-goal (12-3), but Ole Miss held a 9-7 edge in corner kicks.
The 0-0 score at the intermission belied Texas A&M’s grasp on the game. The Aggies outshot the Rebels 10-2 in the first half, including an 8-1 margin in shots-on-goal.
Kenna Caldwell tended goal the entire 90 minutes for the Aggies, yielding one goal and logging two saves. Ole Miss’ Ashley Orkus was spectacular on the night, making 10 saves, including eight in the first half.
Texas A&M’s record upgraded to 13-3-3 overall and 7-2-1 in the SEC. The Rebels dropped to a 9-6-3 overall record and 3-4-3 in league play.
The Aggies improved to 6-2-2 all-time against Ole Miss with all the meetings coming since Texas A&M joined the SEC.
59’ – Ziemer headed a pass to Lopez from the center circle. Lopez launched a rocket from 22 yards out that went through the goalie’s deflection and in at the upper-right corner. A&M 1, OM 0.
61’ – Ole Miss’ Haleigh Stackpole had a shot blocked on the right side and then gathered the carom and dished it to Channing Foster at the penalty arc. Foster sent the ball through on the right side just out of Caldwell’s reach. A&M 1, OM 1.
79’ – Lopez sent the corner kick to Jordan Hill from eight yards out on the left. Hill headed a pass to Cooper at the left corner of the six-yard box that resulted in a Cooper goal past the goalkeeper on the left. A&M 2, OM 1.
The Aggies barreled through the finish line winning their final three matches before heading to Orange Beach, Ala. for the SEC Tournament. The quarterfinals will take place on Tuesday, November 5 and the opponent is to be determined.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach G Guerrieri
On the great effort by the offense…
“I was really pleased with the way we built up and the way we possessed the ball. I thought it was the best we had seen in quite a while. Our defenders were very good in possession. We didn’t force play. We created some great chances, 22 shots and 12 on target. Their goalkeeper was outstanding tonight. It is funny, it seems like every time we play Ole Miss their goalkeeper has an All-American type of performance. Tonight was no exception. She was fantastic. It took some special shots to be able to get one past her, because she made some smoking saves on some other great shots.”
On the strategy to get past their defense…
“We want our players to play with confidence, and if they feel like they are in a position where they can score, it’s fine. It may be a better option to play one more pass into the box to be able to score from short range. That’s one of the reasons Abby Grace Cooper went into the game. She has some guile and sophistication to the way she plays. She is smart about getting into those little spaces, and lo and behold there she is on the door step, pushing one past the goalkeeper.”
Senior defender Callyn Walton
On gaining momentum from the win heading into the SEC tournament…
“Winning at home in your last SEC and taking it into the tournament is huge. My freshman and sophomore year, were very two different years of how we did. Sophomore year we closed out the year with wins and continued to win the championship, so this will be a lot of momentum for us going into the tournament.”
Junior midfielder Jimena Lopez
On testing from distance:
“Yeah they were a really good defense. Their keeper had some really, really good saves. I think from the whole season that’s the best goalkeeper we have faced, hands down. Thankfully we were able to break their defense and score two goals.”
Sophomore forward Abby Grace Cooper
On the moments before scoring the game-winning goal:
“All I remember is Jordan [Hill] heading it back and flicking it. Then I got it in front of my feet in front of the goal, and I was just like ‘I have to put it in.’ I was in the right place at the right time.”