COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Ally Watt scored a golden goal in the 109th minute to give the No. 16 Texas A&M Aggies a 1-0 win over the North Texas Mean Green in the first round of the NCAA Division I Championship Friday night at Ellis Field.
The game seem destined to be decided with penalty kicks before the late match magic. Watt chased down a long service, headed the ball to herself and then powered through two defenders into the penalty box. She fired a shot from the left corner of the six-yard box past goalkeeper Kelsey Brann for her 14th goal of the season. The sudden death goal came with 1:58 remaining in the second overtime period.
The Maroon & White advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the 21st consecutive year.
Cosette Morché collected her 11th shutout of the season, recording six saves, two of which came in the crucial final minutes of the second overtime period.
The Maroon & White boasted a stout backline, including Karlina Sample making her first career start. Briana Alston, Jordan Hill, Kendall Ritchie and Briana Alston also saw action on defense.
Texas A&M dominated offensively, owning the edge in shots, 29-11, shots-on-goal, 6-3, and corner kicks, 15-2. Defensively, North Texas led in saves, 11-7.
North Texas’ Kelsey Brann made a career 11 saves, including three in overtime.
The Aggies extended their dominance against Lone Star foes, improving to 28-0-5 against in-state rivals since 2008.
Watt’s goal moved her into a tie with Yvette Okler (1993-96) for 11th place on the Aggies’ career scoring list.
Texas A&M improved to 16-4-1 on the season while North Texas fell to 15-3-3.
The Aggies will face TCU in a Round of 32 matchup in Knoxville on Friday, November 16, with kickoff time to be determined.
Head Coach G Guerrieri
“These games are lifetime experiences. I think it’s as much heart as the team has shown in the last couple weeks. It was just a tremendous effort on both sides of the field because UNT is an athletic side. They’re a team that has a style exactly opposite of the way we want to try to play. Not only did we have to play against a team that’s been very successful all season at playing that style, we have to be able to consistently regenerate our momentum and our rhythm. I’m really pleased with the way our defense played. It’s nice to get a shutout again. Karlina Sample came in the backline and was fantastic. She’s exactly the player that we knew she was going to be. It’s great to see her healthy and really helping to button things down back there. Cosette Morché had some really good play as far as bringing the ball out of the back, but she was also rock solid with her leadership back there. Addie McCain and Emily Bates had a tremendous performance. Their goalkeeper had some amazing saves to keep them in the game. When it came time for us to come up with a superhuman feat to win the game, Ally put her cape on and took care of business to win the game. Now we’ll get the chance to heal and head to Tennessee to play a TCU team who we know pretty well and obviously respect.”
On playing in front of the 12th Man…
“It’s one of our goals at the beginning of every year. We know the better we can do in the regular season, then we can get one of those top seeds so we can play at home in this tournament. You can see the difference. Typically home field advantage for a lot of teams might be one goal. For us it’s more than that. It’s the best field surface in the United States, it’s an atmosphere that’s positive and brings more electricity to the way the team plays. It just makes it that much more fun. It’s a special place that we’re obviously thankful for.”
Junior forward Ally Watt
On scoring the winning goal…
“Honestly, I can’t remember what was happening through that goal. It was very chaotic. I just knew that I had to get my body in there and just do what I could with it. I knew I had to put myself in a spot to help my team. I got my foot on it and prayed it went in the goal, and it did. I just knew I had to make that run for my team.”
On playing in front of the 12th Man…
“We love playing in front of the 12th Man. We wish we could’ve played more at home this year, going forward in the NCAAs. The atmosphere is great. I talk to players on other teams who travel here and they say it’s crazy. We feed off of it. We love it. We love the fans and the energy they bring us. We find that we do play better at home. We know the 12thman’s support here is something we can depend on. We need that extra energy to go through those overtime periods. They carried us through that.”
North Texas Head Coach John Hedlund
Opening statement …
“First of all I want to congratulate Texas A&M and Coach G. They have a heck of a team. They have all the parts to go pretty far in this tournament, they got size, solid speed, depth, goalkeeping and number one is just a handful for anyone. We wish them the best, and for us it was tremendous game. We had our opportunities, we had chances, one of their players saved one off the goal line. Their keeper made some good saves taking it over the crossbar. It looked like it was going to go to PKs with two minutes left and we have done quite well on PKs, so we were ready for that if it went that far. It’s a tough loss for us because of the fact that we battled throughout, and were two minutes away from going to PKs, and number 1 came up with a tremendous goal.”
On If going to PKs was something he was looking to do with the way Kelsey (Brann) was playing…
“Yeah, when we had the wind for the first overtime, we went for the game. When we didn’t get the goal the second half you are going up against the wind, and you are playing a little bit more defensive, and Kelsey was just on fire the whole game. She has been a huge improvement from last year in this type of setting. We went to Texas last year, and I thought we played well over all, we gave up some soft goals and Kelsey did not do that the entire year and plus in this setting, this is a tough environment to play in. A&M rarely loses at home and they got a great crowd and so forth, but I liked our chances if we went to PKs because we won a couple of games in our conference tournament in PKs.”
On Kelsey Brann tonight and her future…
“It’s huge, it’s bigtime for me and she is only a freshman, so I got her for three more years. It is probably the hardest position to find as a coach. You have to have a goalkeeper, you can have all the pieces defenders and midfielders, but if you don’t have a keeper you are going to fall short. It is tremendous for her. To me I told the girls before the game and even at halftime, I said if they are going to score it going to be number one. She is that good and so we wanted to match up with her tight and down d=behind that matchup and she got loose on us with a couple minutes to play and made us pay. She is a great player, she has had her experience with national team and she will be tough down the road. ”