By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
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ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (November 10, 2013) – Freshman Liz Keester’s goal in the 84th minute Sunday at the Orange Beach SportsPlex lifted second-seeded Texas A&M to a 2-1 win against top-seeded Florida, giving the Aggies their first Southeastern Conference Soccer Tournament title in program history.
“It’s a real feeling of pride for these kids,” Texas A&M head coach G Guerrieri said. “We got off to a little bit of a slow start in the season. We lost our first SEC game of the regular season and were able to claw back and win a share of the regular-season title. This is special because this is against the champions from last year and the team we were tied with at the end of the regular season, and a team that we have the utmost respect for. It was going to take a special effort. We had two great goals in the second half to, first, claw back in and then the second one was just a great, great goal by Liz [Keester] to win it.”
Keester was named the SEC Soccer Tournament Most Valuable Player after scoring a tournament-high three goals, with all three coming in the semifinal and final round. With the score tied at 1-1 late in the match, Keester fired a shot over Florida goalkeeper Taylor Burke’s head to net the winning goal for the Aggies.
“It means a lot – it’s really exciting,” Keester said of winning MVP honors. “I wouldn’t be anywhere without my teammates. They make the passes. They’re right there carrying me across the line when we’re running. We’re all in it together.”
The Aggies (17-4-1) out-shot Florida 17-14 in the match and rallied from a 1-0 deficit at halftime.
“We wanted to make sure that the players knew that even though we were down at halftime, we had been playing well,” Guerrieri said. “We had gotten a lot of chances, we just didn’t get them on frame. To not lose their confidence because the game plan was working. We just had to have the confidence to go out and stick with it, and the grit to make it happen. That’s what it came down to.”
Florida got on the board in the 27th minute when Annie Speese turned in her third goal of the season off a cross to give the Gators the early 1-0 advantage. Shea Groom scored her 13th goal of the season in the 56th minute for Texas A&M to knot the score at 1-1.
While the SEC Tournament title is the first for Texas A&M, the Aggies have captured five Big 12 Tournament Championships in their history.
Florida drops to 17-4-1 with the loss in Sunday’s match.
“I thought we started out pretty good. In terms of compared to the first time that we played Texas A&M, we dealt with their pressure a little bit better,” Florida head coach Becky Burleigh said. “In the second half, I think we got a little bit passive and allowed them too much possession in their half instead of pressing them a little bit higher.”
The 2013 NCAA Tournament selection show will air live at 4:30 p.m. ET Monday on NCAASports.com.
For all of the latest information on SEC Soccer and the 2013 SEC Soccer Tournament, log on to www.SECDigitalNetwork.com.
2013 SEC Soccer Tournament All-Tournament Team
MVP: Liz Keester, Texas A&M
Mandy McCalla, Ole Miss
Bethany Bunker, Ole Miss
Danielle Au, South Carolina
Sabrina D’Angelo, South Carolina
Savannah Jordan, Florida
Havana Solaun, Florida
Christen Westphal, Florida
Allie Bailey, Texas A&M
Shea Groom, Texas A&M
Liz Keester, Texas A&M
Meghan Streight, Texas A&M