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A&M Soccer in Fianal 4

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies recorded a 2-1 win over the No. 8 Penn State Nittany Lions at Ellis Field on Saturday evening to advance to their first College Cup in school history.

Playing in her 100th career match, Allie Bailey scored two goals matching a feat she accomplished in her first-ever collegiate match, a 4-2 win over Fresno State on August 19, 2011.

Bailey scored her first goal in the fifth minute. Annie Kunz worked the ball down to the end line to the right of the six-yard box and sent a cross that Bailey finished off with a slide. It marked the third time in the tournament that the Aggies tallied their opening goal in the first seven minutes of play.

Playing into a stiff wind, Texas A&M (22-2-2) held off a Penn State (20-4-0) attack for the rest of the half to take a 1-0 lead into the intermission. The Nittany Lions outshot the Aggies 11-8 in the first half, though A&M held a 5-3 lead in shots-on-goal.

Penn State knotted the match at 1-1 in the 53rd minute. Working in the center of the pitch, 20 yards out, Frannie Crouse flicked a pass to the right to Salina Williford who unleashed a howitzer from the right corner of the penalty box to the left upper 90 for the equalizer.

After taking the body blow, Texas A&M regrouped and started using the wind to their advantage. A steady attack paid off in the 58th minute. Penn State was unable to clear an attack allowing Bianca Brinson to knock a ball into the six-yard box. Bailey toed the ball past the keeper and it deflected off a Nittany Lions defender into the goal for the 2-1 advantage.

Despite the two goals, Jordan Day may have been the player of the match for the Aggies. She made seven saves on the evening, including five in the second half. Twice the senior had to scurry after her initial save to corral the ball before the carom crossed the end line. She also smothered a pair of one-on-one breakaway chances in the match.

Karlie Mueller also came up big on the back line, clearing a ball from the goal of the mouth after Penn State’s Haleigh Echard gathered up a rebound and sent a missile toward the right post. The heroics prevented an equalizer in the 74th minute.

Playing in front of 3,161 fans, the Maroon and White was hosting their first NCAA Division I Championship quarterfinal after losing on the road on four prior occasions.

Texas A&M improved to 24-4-1 all-time in NCAA Championship matches at Ellis field, winning their ninth in a row and the 15th in the last 16.

With the win, A&M improved their school-record win total to 22, topping the 20-win effort from 2002. The victory improved Aggies’ unbeaten string to 14 matches. The Maroon and White are 13-0-1 since suffering a 1-0 loss to Florida on October 3.

It marked Bailey’s second two-goal effort of the NCAA Championship after she tallied a pair against Arizona in the 7-2 second round victory.

Penn State was playing in their 10th NCAA Championship Quarterfinal, falling to 4-6 in the round. Like Texas A&M, the Nittany Lions were playing in their 20th consecutive NCAA Championship.

Britt Eckerstrom made five saves in goal for Penn State.

The Aggies will face Virginia in College Cup action at FAU Stadium in Boca Raton, Florida on Friday, December 5. Match time is set for 4 pm Central. The winner will play either Florida State or Stanford in the College Cup championship match on Sunday, December 7.


Texas A&M

Head Coach G Guerrieri
Opening Statement…
“Obviously we are ecstatic for what was a very difficult match. I thought that Penn State was outstanding. The goal that they scored is about as good a goal as you’re ever going to see. They stretched us in a lot of ways, but I’m very proud of our players. Even though we gave up a lead, again on a great goal, I was proud of the way our players fought back. Continue to play and continue to attack, the goal was you could almost tie that into the whole story of the match. It was grit and second effort and third effort. Great effort by Annie but a few other players as well before that.”

On what this means to him…
“I’m just exhaling. I feel like I’ve been holding my breath for the last hour and ten minutes, because of the way Penn State was playing. For me personally, this is getting over a big hump. We’ve had so many great teams that were good enough to be in the College Cup, good enough to compete and arguably play alongside those teams that were there and that won it, but never did. Always went on the road in this particular round. I think you can see the impact of playing in front of 3,500, standing room only, at Ellis Field and what playing in front of the 12th man does for us. I think that was a big part of this particular win. You see the importance that we had of being a No. 1 seed. That was one of the goals the team set back in January, when we started to point towards this season. Winning a national championship is our goal. Getting to the college cup was right under that. The elite eight was right under that. I’m so proud of these players like Allie, who is not just a gamer, but also a really sophisticated player. She really uses her body well and is smart in the ways that she plays. And, Jordan Day who is the player of the game in this one for sure, with three game saving plays. I couldn’t be more proud of her; I couldn’t be more proud of the team.”

On the crowd…
Obviously it was fantastic. The 12th Man is second to none. I was concerned because it is a school holiday. The kids, who make up a majority of the excitement in the arena, are all home for Thanksgiving break or are supposed to be home for Thanksgiving break. We knew the West grandstand had sold out on Tuesday, but we weren’t sure what was going to happen with the rest. There was a lot of students here, but there was a ton of people from the community. People came out who really worship these kids. That’s a huge part of what makes this team successful, the relationship we have with this town and people whether students, former students, or just kids who come to support kids.”

Senior Goalkeeper Jordan Day
On making a save then chasing it down before it went in the goal…
“She came on a breakaway, and she shot the ball very hard. It bounced off my fingertips. I almost fell. I was trying to catch myself from falling down. I had to scramble and the wind was helping also.”

On a Karlie making a save, and the save on a breakaway in the first half…
“The one with Karlie, I remember making the first save and I saw as I saved it the ball was lofting over the nearest girl, and I didn’t see the girl behind her. Once she had the ball I tried to get up as quick as I could. Without Karlie, they would have tied the game. She was the saving grace. At the beginning of the game, Coach G told me, ‘If they do have a breakaway don’t guess just be big.’ So I just tried to be as big as possible and see what she was going to do.”

Senior Forward Allie Bailey
On her game today…
“I’m still emotional right now. My last home game here, it could not have gone any better for us.”

On making the College Cup…

“Obviously, this has been a goal since freshman year. Our senior class has all been amazing leaders to lead this team this year, and the younger girls have performed so well. Even the girls that were here before us have carved the path for us to be here. It’s just an awesome feeling. Obviously, we are not done yet, but it’s so great that we could be a part of history here tonight.”

Penn State

Head Coach Erica Walsh
On the match…
“Obviously we’re extremely disappointed. I think our group came here to have a fantastic soccer game and that’s exactly what we faced. I give all the credit to Coach G and his staff and their team in the fight. The atmosphere is obviously one of the best in the country and it was a pleasure for us to be a part of it. I’m disappointed for this group of seniors. It’s a very special group these four. I thought we created enough opportunities to win this game and that’s the game of soccer unfortunately. But it was two great teams in a great battle and Texas A&M’s going to represent our side well in the College Cup.”

On missing a couple of chances by inches…
“You look at this game, you look at the opportunities and that’s exactly what it was. It was a matter of inches. Probably the thing we say the most with our team ‘it’s all in the details.’ That’s probably the quote they hear us say the most is that to focus on the details and I thought tonight they did. I was really proud of the effort they put forth, the focus, the concentration and the execution to be honest. I thought considering the conditions, with the wind and the havoc that was going on out there I thought we did a nice job at settling the ball down and playing a bit and playing Penn State soccer and really that’s what you can ask of your team.”

On playing in front of the 12th Man…
“It was definitely challenging, I think you come into an environment like this and all things being equal it’s going to be challenging then you add on giving up a goal in the first five minutes. But I love the fight I saw in my team, I love the energy that the seniors brought you know we were on our heels for most of that game and that’s unfortunate that we had to expend a little too much energy trying to chase rather than being on top of it. With all that being said, again I liked our opportunities and I love this team I’m disappointed not to have another week with them because they’re a really special group. We’ve got a family here and it’s disappointing not to get another week together.”

On what impresses her about Texas A&M…
“The obvious consistency of this program. You know year in and year out they’re one of the best programs in the country. They’ve built a product, they’ve put a product out that the fans want to come and support and they love to support. It’s great to see that for all of us, for the women’s game and that’s what we said to the team before the game is this is all for women’s soccer here. Whether for them or for us, it doesn’t matter, it’s for women’s soccer and that feels great in our sport.”

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Posted by on Nov 30 2014. Filed under Sports.
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