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A&M Looks to Continue Perfect Start, Heads to Sun Devil Classic

September 03, 2014
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Aggies look to continue their perfect start as they head to the Grand Canyon State for a pair of matches at the Sun Devil Classic. The tournament will feature the Aggies and Oklahoma State playing matches against Arizona and Arizona State. A&M is paired up with Arizona on Friday (8:30 pm CT) and Arizona State on Sunday (3 pm CT).

The Aggies are off to a 4-0-0 start for the first time since the 2003 season. Texas A&M has not started a season 5-0-0 since. The school record for consecutive wins to start a season is nine in 1996 and 1997.

The senior duo of Shea Groom and Kelley Monogue have spearheaded the Aggie arsenal. They’ve combined for 22 of the Aggies 33 points and nine of the 12 goals on the season. Groom has scored one goal in each of the first four matches, to become the first Aggie since Linsey Woodard in 2001 to accomplish the feat. Monogue was named the SEC Offensive Player of the Week after recording three goals and two assists in wins over No. 18 UCF and Illinois State. Monogue leads the SEC with five goals and 13 points on the year.

Live stats for both matches this weekend are on TheSunDevils.com. Sunday’s match may be viewed by people who have access to Pac-12 Arizona. Every match this season will feature free live audio on RadioAggieland and 12thMan.com.

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In the second regular-season poll, A&M is ranked No. 6 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)/Continental Tire poll, up three spots from the preseason ranking and one spot from a week ago. The Aggies are No. 6 in the Soccer America Top 25, No. 4 in the TopDrawerSoccer.com Top 25 and No. 9 in the BennettRank poll. Defending national champion UCLA claimed the top spot in all four rankings.

The Aggies played a sluggish first half against Illinois State, playing to a 1-1 draw going into the intermission, but A&M overwhelmed the Redbirds in the second half for a 4-1 win. Allie Bailey, Kelley Monogue, Shea Groom and Haley Pounds each put the biscuit in the basket to give the Maroon and White their fourth straight win to start the season.

Texas A&M owns a 196-29-5 (.863) all-time record at Ellis Field (formerly Aggie Soccer Stadium). The Maroon and White have called the field home since the 1994 season, playing the inaugural 1993 season at Old Tiger Field. Since 2005, the Aggies have registered a 96-13-5 (.864) mark on the friendly pitch.

The Aggies have been dominant in the Brazos Valley. Texas A&M owns a 203-29-5 (.867) all-time record in College Station. The win tally includes a 196-29-5 (.863) mark at Ellis Field from 1994-2013 and a 7-0 mark at Old Tiger Field in 1993. The Maroon and White are 96-13-5 (.864) at home since 2005.

With their 18-5-2 mark last season, the Aggies posted their 10th consecutive 15-win season dating back to 2004. In their first 21 seasons, the only two years the Aggies have not reached the 15-win plateau are 1998 (14-8) and 2003 (13-6-3). The school record for victories stands at 20, set in 2002 with a 20-5-1 mark.

Since the 2008 season, the Aggies own a 20-0-5 mark against in-state rivals, including an 11-0-4 record against their former Big 12 Conference colleagues. Last season, A&M went 1-0-2 against Lone Star foe, topping UTSA, 1-0, in the second game of the season, tying Baylor, 0-0, in the sixth game, and tying Texas Tech, 2-2, in the NCAA Second Round, eventually advancing on penalty kicks. This year, the Aggies dropped Stephen F. Austin, 1-0, on August 24.

Over the last two seasons, the Aggies have played in 16 matches decided by one goal or less, going 12-2-2 in those matches. This season, A&M has posted one-goal wins over Dayton (4-3) and Stephen F. Austin (1-0).

In 2013, Texas A&M played 14 matches decided by one goal or less, posting a 10-2-2 record in those contests. Nine of the Aggies’ last 10 wins were decided by one goal, including three victories at the SEC Tournament and their NCAA Championship first round win against Utah. A&M’s only blemishes in close matches were 1-0 losses against Duke and Tennessee and a 0-0 draw against Baylor. The Aggies also played to a 2-2 draw against Texas Tech in the NCAA Championship second round, but advanced to the third round on penalty kicks.

The non-conference slate figures to be one of the toughest on record for the Aggies. All eight opponents finished in the Top 100 in the final RPI last season, with Arizona being the lowest rated team at 83. Marquette (6), UCF (13), Stephen F Austin (51), Arizona State (60), Illinois State (66), Florida Gulf Coast (67), Dayton (70) and Arizona finished last season with an average RPI of 52 compared to last year’s eight non-conference opponents owning an average RPI of 101.

Texas A&M’s non-conference schedule is challenging with six of the eight opponents having won their league’s regular-season title in 2013. The defending league champions on the non-conference slate include Dayton (Atlantic 10), Stephen F. Austin (Southland), UCF (The American), Illinois State (Missouri Valley), FGCU (Atlantic Sun) and Marquette (Big East). All six teams were selected to repeat as 2014 champions in their league’s respective preseason coaches’ polls. The two non-conference opponents who did not win conference titles last year are Arizona and Arizona State, who both finished in the middle of the powerhouse Pac 12 Conference that produced national champion UCLA.

Kelley Monogue enters play with 97 career points, three points shy of becoming the eighth player in school history to reach the 100-point plateau. The McKinney native is three points shy of Yvette Okler (1993-96) and Heather Ragsdale (1999-2002) who are tied for sixth place on the Aggies’ career points list with 100. A duplicate of last weekend’s eight-point performance would also move her past Kristen Strutz (2000-03) for fifth place on the list. Ashlee Pistorius (2004-07) owns the school record with 194 points followed by Bryn Blalack (1994-197) with 192. During her healthiest campaign, Monogue logged 47 points as a freshman in 2011. Recovering from a knee injury in 2012, the McKinney, Texas native logged 20 points. Last season, she registered 17 points as she still felt the effects of the earlier ailment.

With her goal against Illinois State, Kelley Monogue became the fifth player in school history to log 40 career goals. The McKinney native trails only Ashlee Pistorius (81 - 2004-07), Bryn Blalack (79 - 1994-97), Nicky Thrasher (57 - 1997-2001) and Kristen Koop (55 - 1993-96). Monogue was A&M’s leading goal scorer as a freshman with 19 tallies in 2011. She added 10 in 2012 and six in 2013.

Annie Kunz enters play with 32 career goals, tied with Yvette Okler (1993-96) for ninth place on the A&M all-time list. The next target on the list is Kristen Strutz (2000-03) who ranks eighth with 34 goals. Heather Ragsdale (1999-2002) and teammate Kelley Monogue are also within striking distance in sixth place with 37 goals. Kunz tallied 14 goals as a freshman and 13 as a sophomore. Hampered by an injury that held her out of four games and limited her to a reserve role most of the 2013 campaign, Kunz managed just five goals in 2013.

Texas A&M head coach G Guerrieri ranks among the top five in both winning percentage and victories among active Division I coaches. With a career record of 376-118-27 (.748), he ranks fifth in winning percentage (minimum five years as a Division I head coach) and victories, passing James Madison’s David Lombardo (374) and William & Mary’s John Daly (370) last season. Guerrieri ranks sixth all-time among NCAA Division I coaches in victories, trailing North Carolina’s Anson Dorrance (764), Connecticut’s Len Tsantiris (513), Florida’s Becky Burleigh (422), Santa Clara’s Jerry Smith (412) and Randy Waldrum (400), who left Notre Dame in the off-season to become head coach of the Houston Dash of the National Women’s Soccer League.

This marks the Aggies’ first-ever match against the Arizona Wildcats.

Arizona is off to a 2-1-0 start on the season. The Wildcats split a pair of games on a trip to the Sunshine State, beating Florida International (2-0) and falling to Florida Gulf Coast (2-1). Last Thursday, Arizona dropped in-state rival Northern Arizona, 1-0.

The Wildcats four goals this season have been scored by four different players, including Charlotte Brascia, Paige Crouch, Alexandra Doller and Leeandra Smith. Doller leads the team in points with three. Gabby Kaufman has played all 270 minutes in goal, logging six saves and posting a 0.67 goals-against average.

Last season, the first under Coach Tony Amato, the Wildcats finished 9-7-4 overall and 4-6-1 in Pac-12 play. Overall, the Wildcats have 20 players returning from the 2013 season, 18 of which were letterwinners. Doller is the top returner in terms of goals scored from the 2013 squad, she tallied seven on the season and also assisted on three goals as well. Midfielder Jaden DeGracie, a 2013 second-team All-Pac-12 honoree, assisted on eight goals during the season, the most on the team. Kaufman is back for another year between the sticks for the Wildcats, she played in all 20 games for the Wildcats and posted five shutouts in 2013, tied for fifth-best in UA history for a season.

The Wildcats played in the NCAA Tournament on two occasions, losing in the first round in 2004 and advancing to the Sweet 16 in 2005.

The Aggies are 2-0 all-time against the Arizona State Sun Devils. The Aggies won their first match against ASU, 3-1, in Madison, Wisconsin in 1998. Texas A&M toppled the Sun Devils by a score of 3-1 again last season at Ellis Field. The Aggies got goals from Kelley Monogue, Liz Keester and Allie Bailey. Jordan Day made four saves to pick up the win in goal for A&M.

Arizona State is off to a 2-1-1 start on the season. The Sun Devils start the season with a pair of matches in Honolulu, playing to a draw against Texas (2-2) and beating Hawai’i (5-2). Last weekend, Arizona State traveled to the Land of Lincoln for a pair of matches, dropping a 3-1 decision at Illinois and toppling Loyola-Chicago, 3-1.

Aly Moon leads the Sun Devils with nine points on four goals and one assist. Cali Farquharson and McKenzie Berryhill each have two goals. Lexi Bounds and Chandler Morris have each started two matches in goal, bounds has seen a majority of the action. Bounds has logged 245 minutes, posting a 1.84 goals-against average and logging six saves. Morris has played 135 minutes, making two saves and posting a 2.00 goals-against average.

Farquharson is the leading goal scorer from last season when she posted 22 points on 10 goals and two assists. The Sun Devils finished 9-8-2 overall last season, including a 4-5-2 mark in Pac-12 play. Morris started all 19 games in goal, logging a 1.11 goals-against average and 75 saves.

The Sun Devils have made six NCAA Championship appearances, including three in the last five years. They made it to the second round of the tournament in 2000, 2002 and 2003, but were unable to get out of the first round in 2009, 2010 and 2012.

The Aggies are 38-11-2 all-time against the current membership of the Pac 12 Conference. Twenty-one of the 51 meetings came against former Big 12 opponent Colorado who the Aggies own a 17-2-2 edge against. The Maroon and White are 4-0 against both Utah and Washington and 2-0 against both Arizona State and Oregon. Texas A&M also owns a series advantages against USC, 1-0, and Washington State, 2-1. The only squad the Aggies have a losing record against is UCLA (1-3). Texas A&M is .500 against California (2-2) and Stanford (3-3). The Aggies have never faced Arizona and Oregon State.

The amount of offense the Aggies return from 2013 is staggering. A&M lost just two letterwinners, including one starter, from last season. The departure of starting defender Rachel Lenz and reserve midfielder Cristina Sanchez-Quintanar resulted in the loss of just two goals, one assist and five points from last season. The Aggies return 54 of 56 goals (96.4 percent), 47 of 48 assists (97.9) and 155 of 160 points (96.9) from last season’s arsenal.

All nine players who recorded multiple goals a year ago return, including leading scorer Shea Groom (14). Liz Keester (10), Allie Bailey (9), Kelley Monogue (6) and Annie Kunz (5) are notable goal scorers returning. Other players with multiple digits in the points column to return include Bianca Brinson (3 g, 7 a) with 13 points and Karlie Mueller (0 g, 10 a) with 10 points.

Seniors Jordan Day and Renee McDermott account for 6,773 of the 6,790 minutes in goal for the Aggies since 2011. The other 17 minutes were played by Megan Majewski who appeared in two matches as a reserve in 2011.

Day has logged a bulk of the minutes in goal with 71 appearances, including 69 starts. Her career goals-against average stands at 0.89 and she has posted a 50-16-5 mark and logged 230 saves in 6,264 minutes. Day was named All-SEC First Team in 2012 when she logged a school-record 14 shutouts and posted a 0.63 goals-against average. Last season, the Gilbert, Arizona native posted a 1.01 goals-against average and six shutouts en route to All-SEC Second Team recognition.

McDermott has logged 510 minutes of action with 10 appearances, including five starts. Her career goals-against average stands at 1.24 and she has 16 career saves. She saw a bulk of her action as a freshman when she logged 422 minutes in six games, including five starts. She logged a 1.49 goals-against average, 14 saves and a 3-0 record, including two shutouts in 2011. The last two seasons she has made four relief appearances, logging 88 minutes without yielding a goal.

The Aggies return 255 of their 275 starts on the pitch from 2013 (92.7 percent). All 20 starts missing from a year ago belong to Rachel Lenz. The Round Rock product started 20 games on the backline and added one goal and one assist.

The Aggies welcome four freshmen, in Mikaela Harvey (Liberty Hill, Texas), Stephanie Malherbe (Temecula, Calif.), McKayla Paulson (Mansfield, Texas) and Haley Pounds (Spring, Texas). Harvey, Malherbe and Pounds enrolled in January and took part in the Aggies’ spring practices. A&M’s four freshmen have combined to start 11 matches this season with Paulson starting all four. Pounds has three starts and scored her first career goal in Sunday’s match against Illinois State. Harvey started the first two matches of the season, but missed the last two games due to injury. Malherbe started both games on the weekend for her first career starts.

Shea Groom has notched a goal in each of the first four matches. She became just the fourth player to accomplish the feat and the first since Linsey Woodard in 2001. Woodard started the 2001 campaign with goals in each of the first six matches. Kristen Koop started the 1995 campaign with goals in the first four matches in 1995 and Nicky Thrasher started the 1999 season with goals in the first four contests. The Aggie record for most consecutive goals at any point of a season is shared by three players with seven, including Jamie Csizmadia in 1993, Bryn Blalack in 1995 and Woodard in 2002.

At 4-0-0, the Aggies are off to their best two-match start since 2003. Texas A&M has started 4-0-0 on five occasions, including 1996, 1997, 1999, 2003 and 2014. The Aggies’ longest win streak to start a season is nine on two occasions, 1996 and 1997.

The Aggies return home for a home match against Florida Gulf Coast at 7 pm on Thursday. It marks the start of a three-game homestand with matches against FGCU, Marquette (9/14) and Tennessee (9/18).

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