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Aggies Advance to Big 12 Semifinal on PKs

November 03, 2011
Courtesy: Texas A&M Athletics
(photo: Texas A&M Athletics)

SAN ANTONIO, Texas - The second-seeded Texas A&M soccer team came from behind to draw with No. 7 seed Kansas, 3-3, before advancing on penalty kicks, 5-3, on Wednesday in the quarterfinal round of the Big 12 Championship at the Blossom Soccer Stadium.

"We've talked to the players about how postseason and tournament time brings out some crazy situations," head coach G Guerrieri said. "When they go up, 2-0, we made a substitution to go ahead and just go for it. We get three goals in a five-minute span and then unfortunately we give up another goal with three seconds left in regulation. It was just a crazy, crazy game.

"Then to go into penalties and win it on the fifth kick is neat. Jordan Day really was the hero there at the end to pull off that save, but a lot of heroics by our team in coming back from a two-goal deficit and get this result for us."

The Jayhawks (11-8-1) scored the first two goals of the match, looking to avenge a 3-0 shutout by the Aggies (13-5-2) in Lawrence, Kan., earlier this season. A&M netted three consecutive goals in five minutes with less than 20 minutes left in regulation, but a 90th-minute goal by KU took the game into overtime.

After two scoreless overtime periods, the teams entered a best-of-five penalty kick shootout. A big save by Aggie goalkeeper Jordan Day on the Jayhawks' fourth shot gave A&M the edge it needed as senior Merritt Mathias netted the Aggies' fifth penalty kick and ending the game with a 5-3 shootout score in A&M's advantage.

The Aggies wasted no time on the attack. Senior Megan Majewski headed two shots wide on set pieces in the sixth and seventh minutes of the match as A&M controlled possession of the ball.

Again narrowly missing the goal, junior Nora Skelton collected a pass from Mathias in the eighth minute and sent a shot high. Just a minute later Mathias' free kick from 25 yards went wide of the goal.

With 10 minutes remaining in the match, Kansas' Whitney Berry fired from just outside the 18-yard box and scored. Day tried to parry the ball over but it hit the underside of the crossbar and flew into the left side netting.

The Aggies were unable to answer and entered the second half with strong winds and driving rain. Freshman Kelley Monogue forced a save in the first five minutes on a free kick and fired wide a minute later but was unable to reconcile the Aggies' deficit.

Mathias and freshman Meghan Streight placed three more shots on frame in the next 15 minutes but couldn't get a ball past KU keeper Kaitlyn Stroud. The freshman spent 110 minutes in goal for the Jayhawks and made six saves.

Kansas looked strong as it scored a second goal in the 74th minute, but a determined Aggie squad scored three consecutive goals in the next six minutes to take a 3-2, come-from-behind lead.

Mathias scored the Aggies first goal on a pass from freshman Allie Bailey in the 75th minute, just 47 seconds after KU's security goal.

Just over a minute later, junior Beth West sent a ball in to Skelton who crossed a pass to freshman Annie Kunz in the six-yard box. Kunz's shot skipped into the goal to tie the game at 2-2.

In the 80th minute the Aggies struck again, taking their first lead of the match. Kunz brought the ball down the right flank and flicked a ball back to Mathias near the right post. Mathias one-touched a pass to Monogue, who was waiting in the center of the 18-yard box and nailed a blast.

The Aggies kept possession until the final minute of the match, pushing numbers back to prevent a tying goal, but with three seconds left on the clock in regulation, KU's Caroline Kastor sent a ball in that bounced out of Day's reach as it hit the back of the net to tie the game at 3-3 and send it into overtime.

Neither team was able to get past the freshman goalkeepers in two 10-minute overtime periods and the match ended in a draw, with a penalty kick shootout set to determine an advancing team.

Bailey led the charge for A&M with a penalty kick that easily passed Stroud to give the Aggies a 1-0 lead in the shootout. Kunz, Streight and sophomore Rachel Lenz each netted their shots, as did three KU players.

With the Aggies leading the shootout, 4-3, Day dove and saved Jayhawk forward Ingrid Vidal's shot. Mathias finished shootout off with a fifth goal as the Aggies took a 5-3 lead to advance to the semifinal round.

A&M started the 2010 Big 12 Tournament in the same way, drawing with No. 8 seed Colorado before advancing to the semifinal round on a penalty kick shootout.

"We're traditionally a great penalty kick-taking team," Guerrieri said. "I don't think we've ever lost a game on penalties and that crosses a lot of generations of goalkeepers and great shooters. I thought that all five of our shots were on-the-money and Jordan pulled off a great save there in the corner to win it.

"For the goalkeepers it's an opportunity to be heroes when they're not supposed to be making any of these saves. For the shooters to step up and do what they do all the time in practice is just follow-through.

"Really, we'd rather not go this far, but we're OK to get the result and move on. We'll play a team that did penalties themselves, as well. Our players have been wanting to play against Mizzou and this is an opportunity for us to get them on Friday night."

The Aggies will play No. 6 seed Missouri on Friday at 8 p.m. in the semifinal round of the Big 12 Championship. An audio broadcast will be available on AggieAthletics.com, and a live video broadcast can be viewed on Big12Sports.com.

The Tigers drew with No. 3 seed Baylor and defeated the Bears in a penalty kick shootout. The Aggies and Missouri faced in Columbia during the regular season, resulting in a 1-0 victory for the Tigers. To learn more about Texas A&M soccer, log on to AggieAthletics.com.

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