COLLEGE STATION, Texas – After falling behind 3-1 in the first 24 minutes of action, the Texas A&M Aggies fought back to score the final three goals of the match, including the golden goal by Liz Keester in the 96th minute to secure the 4-3 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks.
The win extended A&M’s win streak to five matches. The Aggies remained in a tie with Kentucky and South Carolina for second place in the SEC standings. The three teams all have 15 points with 5-1-0 SEC marks. LSU leads the conference with 16 points with a 5-0-1 league ledger.
Keester scored the walk-off goal with 4:23 remaining in the first overtime period. The rookie took a pass from Allie Bailey and raced down the left side of the pitch. Two-yards before reaching the left corner of the penalty box, Keester had an opening and launched a shot that had enough mustard on it to find the back of the net despite leaping Arkansas netminder Cameron Carter getting a mitt on it.
Texas A&M drew blood early in the match as Keester scored in the third minute of action. Bianca Brinson worked the ball to the endline outside the penalty box and sent a pass into Keester. The freshman pivoted around one defender and boomed a shot from 10 yards right of the penalty spot into the left side netting for the 1-0 advantage.
Arkansas (9-5-0, 2-4-0 SEC) took advantage of three corner kick opportunities in the next 21 minutes to stake claim to a 3-1 lead. Tyler Allen’s service from the left corner arc led directly to the first two goals. Her first offering found the head of Margaret Power at the right corner of the six-yard box and Power planted it into the right upper ninety for the equalizer in the seventh minute.
In the 19th minute, Allen bent in an offering that hit the far post and Ashleigh Ellenwood collected the carom and sent it home for her team-high seventh goal of the season.
The Razorbacks’ third goal came on a scrum on A&M’s inability to clear the ball. After Allen’s initial service did not yield a shot, a scrum ensued and Arkansas’ Ellenwood sent a bicycle kick goalward. Aggie netminder Jordan Day pounced on the shot, but was unable to harness the ball and Yvonne DesJarlais scored from two yards out to give the Razorbacks a 3-1 advantage.
The Aggies were able to take some starch out of Arkansas’ charge in the 28th minute. On a free kick from 30 yards out, Kelley Monogue pummeled the Razorbacks’ wall with a low line drive. The deflection skirted towards the penalty spot where Rachel Lenz made easy work of a one-on-one situation with Carter, beating her to the left side for her first goal of the season. The tally cut the lead to 3-2 going into the intermission.
The halftime stats reflected the tightness of play in the opening stanza with shots even at 8-8 and shots on-goal even at 5-5. The corner kick number proved to be the difference in the first half, with Arkansas owning a 4-3 advantage, and the Razorbacks converted on three of the four.
Texas A&M (10-3-1) stepped up the offensive effort in the second half, outshooting Arkansas 14-7 and posting a 7-4 edge in shots-on-goal. The hard work yielded just one goal, but it was enough to send the match to overtime.
In the 62nd minute, Karlie Mueller unleashed a rocket of a free kick from 45 yards out just left of the center circle. Her service found the head of Janae Cousineau who flicked it just inside the right post past a diving Carter to level the match at 3-3.
Day went the distance in goal for Texas A&M, registering five saves. Leigh Edwards also made a defensive save in the 63rd minute on a shot from Desjarlais, to prevent Arkansas from taking a 4-3 lead. Carter made nine saves in goal for Arkansas.
For the match, Texas A&M owned advantages in shots (23-16) and shots-on-goal (13-9), but Arkansas had a 7-4 edge in corner kick chances.
Texas A&M returns to action on Friday when the Aggies travel to Tuscaloosa for a 7 pm contest against the Alabama Crimson Tide.
Texas A&M Quotes
Head Coach G Guerrieri
Opening Statement: "I'm pleased. That was a real gut-check for our kids. We came out and really looked good and scored a great goal with Liz (Keester) in the first few minutes of the game. We relaxed a little bit and allowed Arkansas to do what they do. They're a battling, hard-working team whose bread and butter are corner kicks, long throw-ins and set pieces. Give their coaching staff a lot of credit. They set up a good plan against us. It's something that we can learn from for sure. I think a lot of teams would've crumbled after giving up three goals on corner kicks. We had a huge crowd. We're elated that the Corps of Cadets was here to support us. We had a huge amount of energy that came from them tonight. The girls have a tremendous amount of confidence in themselves and in each other. That's what happened on the goal before halftime and then the exclamation point came on the equalizer in the second half. The final goal came on an unbelievable effort from Liz."
On the resiliency of the team: "It took confidence and belief. We wouldn't have won this game if we had played the way Arkansas likes to play. That's not the way we are. Even though we did score a goal on a set-piece, that's not how we operate. We're a team that wants to set the ball down and play. We have to continue to be ourselves, but understand that other teams have a game plan. That's the hard thing. We knew what they did. They came in and did some great stuff on it [the game plan]. It took great confidence and skill from the Aggies tonight."
Freshman forward Liz Keester
On the team's effort: "I thought our team did a really good job. We showed a lot of fight. It was really great having the corps behind us. It makes our lives a lot easier when we have the stands packed in the true nature of the 12th Man. I think we showed a really good fight tonight. It showed that we can't lose. We won't lose."
On the game-winning goal: "I started with a pass and I saw the shot. I knew I had to take it. We work on a lot of things in practice in those intense situations. It's all about doing what we work on in practice."