TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The No. 15 Texas A&M Aggies snared a 3-0 win over the Oakland Golden Grizzlies in NCAA Championship second round action at the Seminole Soccer Complex on Friday afternoon.
With the win, the Aggies advanced to NCAA Championship Regional Quarterfinal round for the 11th time. A&M will be searching for a spot an NCAA Championship Regional Final for the fifth time.
Texas A&M (19-4-1) posted its 15th shutout of the season with a stifling defense that held Oakland to just three shots, including one in the first half. Jordan Day made one save in recording her 14th shutout of the year. Day, who already owns the school single-season mark, now stands just one shy of the SEC record set by South Carolina's Mollie Patton in 2009.
The 19 victories are tied for second in school history. A&M posted a school-record 20 wins in 2002 with a 20-5-1 mark. That season, the Aggies advanced in the NCAA Championship with a penalty kick shootout in the first round, which under the rules of time was recorded as a victory. The Maroon and White also notched 19 wins during their 1996 campaign (19-4).
The Aggies dictated the terms of play throughout the match. A&M held a marked advantage in all the offensive categories, including shots (12-3), shots-on-goal (5-1) and corner kicks (4-1).
The Aggies broke the scoring seal in the 15th minute of action. Dribbling down right center of the pitch, Shea Groom sent a through ball into the penalty box from 25 yards out. Kunz collected the ball 10 yards out and launched a shot from the right corner of the goal area that ricocheted off the far post before ruffling the back netting for the 1-0 lead. It was Kunz's team-leading 13th goal of the season.
Texas A&M inflated the cushion to 2-0 in the 33rd minute. Groom once again served as catalyst for the goal. The mercurial sophomore entered the penalty box from the left side and sent a low driving pass along the top of the six-yard goal area where she found the foot of Katie Perry. Oakland's netminder was able to offer little resistance as Perry sent the ball into the net with authority for her second goal of the season.
The Aggies nearly went into the intermission without yielding a shot from the Golden Grizzlies, but Oakland's Sarah Reynolds was able to send a header with a little bit of mustard on it goalward with 2:45 left in the first half, but solid positioning by Day made the save look easy and the teams went to the locker rooms with A&M owning the two-goal lead.
The play from Oakland (11-6-4) got chippy in the second half with 10 fouls, but the Aggies did not rest on their laurels, outshooting the Grizzlies 6-2 in the stanza.
In the waning moments of the match, the Aggies continued to look for goals. Jayne Eadie took a crossing pass from Bianca Brinson in the 87th minute and sent it a foot over the crossbar from 10 yards out. In the 91st minute, Kelley Monogue dribbled toward the right corner of the goal area and sent a shot in that was deflected by the Oakland goalkeeper just left of the far post.
Kelley Monogue dropped the anvil on the Grizzlies in the 85th minute with her 10th goal of the season. The sophomore dribbled through the Oakland defense to the top of the penalty box and sent in a driven ball into an upper 90 as the Aggies staked claim to a 3-0 lead.
The Aggies advanced to Sunday's NCAA Championship Regional Quarterfinal at 12 p.m. Central in Tallahassee. Texas A&M will play the winner of Friday evening's match between host Florida State and former Big 12 foe Texas Tech.
Kentucky Falls at the Hands of UCLA
SAN DIEGO, Calif. – With a strike on goal late in the opening half, and four goals in the second half, the No. 5/6 UCLA Bruins ended the University of Kentucky women’s soccer team’s (14-7-1, 8-5-1 SEC) run in the 2012 NCAA Women’s Soccer Championship in the second round, knocking off the Wildcats at the SportsDeck in San Diego, Calif.
“We didn’t want to sit back and see how long we could hang, we wanted to play,” UK head coach Jon Lipsitz said, who completes his fourth year at the helm of the UK women’s soccer program. “We wanted to present some tactical challenges to them and see if they could solve them, and obviously they did a fantastic job of it. Congratulations to UCLA and we wish them nothing but the best of luck. I will be stunned if they are not one of the teams sitting there at the end."
UCLA (17-2-2, 8-2-1 PAC-12) opened the scoring in the 39th minute when Ally Courtnall got her feet on a loose ball and punched it past Kayla King to give the Bruins the lead. The ball was initially shot in by the Bruins and saved by King, before a slight rebound deflected out of her grasp and found the feet of Courtnall who slid it in back post to the right side. The goal was her fourth of the season.
The two teams went to the locker room at halftime with UCLA leading in most statistical categories, including holding a 13-3 edge in shots, and 4-0 edge in corner kicks. UK struck for three shots in the opening 45, with two of them being on goal.
UK’s best chance to break through in the first half came when freshman Kelli Hubly was slipped a ball down the near side and took a few touches into the box and towards the keeper. The Elk Grove, Ill., keeper launched a shot over the far-post upper 90, just sailing high and wide.
Kentucky opened the half with much more fluidity and pace as Arin Gilliland played a great diagonal ball in over the head of the UCLA defense into the feet of Hubly. Hubly centered in a cross that was batted around and touched multiple times in front of the six, but cleared away by the Bruin defense five minutes into the half.
UCLA increased its lead seven minutes into the second half to 2-0, and then again to 3-0 just seven minutes later. The goals came as just the second time all season that UK has allowed three or more goals to its opponents all season, as only Arkansas breached the Wildcats back line three times back in September.
The season concludes for Kentucky as one of the best in program history, recording a fourth-place Southeastern Conference finish, 14 wins, and the school’s first-ever NCAA Tournament win in eight tries. The Wildcats were selected as one of only 32 host sites for the opening round of the NCAA Tournament for the second-consecutive season, yet again drawing over 800 fans to the UK Soccer Complex. The Wildcats did all of it with a whopping 15 freshman and 27 underclassmen.
Kentucky finished the season 2-1-1 against teams ranked in the top-15 of the nation, recording wins over No. 12 Louisville, No. 13 Florida and a draw with No. 6 Texas A&M.
“I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished this season,” Lipsitz said. “Building a program goes step-by-step, and we have taken an important step this season. We will continue from here as a benchmark of what we need to do to get better.”
Florida Advances to Sweet Sixteen With 1-0 Win Over UCF
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Obviously, the most important numbers on the Pressly Stadium scoreboard Friday night were the ones lighting up a 1-0 Florida victory over UCF in second-round play of the NCAA women’s soccer tournament.
But the digits at the bottom of the board also were pretty significant in the eighth-ranked Gators advancing to the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2008.
Shots: UF 14, UCF 1.
Let’s flush those digits out some more.
In last week’s first-round defeat of Florida Gulf Coast, a 2-0 victory, the Gators allowed zero shots. None. Zippo.
Make that two NCAA wins and just one shot by the opponent.
Can someone say “defense?”
UF coach Becky Burleigh was more than happy to say it and talk about it.
“It really has come a long way,” Burleigh said. “It’s a whole team effort for us. When people think of our defense they think of our back line and our goalkeeper, but it’s a team effort. And a big part of it comes with us keeping the ball. When we have the ball, they don’t -- and that’s the best defense you can have.”
The Gators (19-4-2) had a possession party against the Knights (17-5-2), the four-time champions of Conference USA. They came in with statistically one of the best defenses in the country, but on this night, UF out-UCFed UCF.
“That was a pretty dominant game by Florida, possession-wise,” Knights coach Amanda Cromwell said.
She should know.
The Knights began the night ranked third nationally in goals-against average and fourth in shutout percentage, having blanked seven straight opponents before advance past Miami on penalty kicks in last weekend’s opening-round action.
UCF keeper Lianne Maldonado, with 15 shutouts this season, had another outstanding game, but she couldn’t stop a textbook give-and-go play from Taylor Travis to Erika Tymrak and back to Travis, who bumped the game’s lone goal past a diving Maldonado in the 60th minute.
“I haven’t seen it on video yet, but from what it looked like on the field, it was a thing of beauty,” Burleigh said.
Sort of like her offense that was thorough with its ball control and her defense that UCF’s coach three times described using some form of the verb “smother.”
And sort of like her’s team maturity, given the near-identical circumstances to a year ago.
In 2011, UCF took down the Gators, the region’s No. 2 seed, on their home field, putting a bitter end to the season. So here came the Knights again with everything on the line. Yet, despite 20 returning players from last year’s roster, there were next to no mentions of revenge from any of the UF women heading into the match.
“That’s emotion,” Burleigh said. “This team thrives on composure.”
“This is a just a totally different team. This year’s team is more about a belief in what we’re doing,” senior midfielder Holly King said. “We were extremely confident going into this game and we’ll be extremely confident going into the next game.”
That would be Sunday against Notre Dame (15-5-2) with a berth in the Elite Eight on the line.
“We hadn’t gotten past this round our whole careers,” senior center back Kathryn Williamson. “This is a huge step for our senior class, for us as a team. I think we’re going to fight and keep on going.”
They have a shot, for sure.
Especially when they’re not giving any up.