ORANGE BEACH, Alabama – Freshman Liz Keester scored two goals early in the first half and the No.21 Texas A&M Aggies registered a 2-1 win over the No. 9 South Carolina Gamecocks in the semifinal round of the 2013 SEC Women’s Soccer Tournament at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
The Aggies advance to play the No. 5 Florida Gators in the Championship at 1 pm Sunday on ESPNU. Florida toppled the Ole Miss Rebels, 2-1, in the first semifinal match of the evening.
Texas A&M drew first blood in the fifth minute of action. Shea Groom unleashed a shot from 10 yards out and although Carolina keeper Sabrina D’Angelo made the save, she was unable to control the ball. The carom came back to Keester who put it home from six yards for the 1-0 lead.
Keester added a second goal in the 12th minute for the 2-0 advantage. Bianca Brinson possessed the ball outside the attacking third and raced down the right touchline into the penalty box. She worked the ball down to the endline just outside six-yard box and crossed the ball to Keester who sent the ball to the back of the net with one touch.
South Carolina broke the scoring seal in the 25th minute when Jordan Day was unable to keep her gloves on a shot from Raina Johnson
Day earned her 48th career victory in goal, making two saves. With the win, Day moved into third place on A&M’s career win list.
The Aggies were able to scorch the SEC Defensive Player of the Year Sabrina D’Angelo for the two goals early, but she rebounded to make six saves, keeping the Gamecocks within striking distance.
Texas A&M owned the offensive advantages in shots (16-9), shots-on-goal (8-3) and corner kicks (7-4). Allie Bailey (4), Groom (4) and Keester each fired off multiple shots to lead the arsenal and each peppered two shots-on-goal for the match.
On Sunday, the Aggies look to win their sixth conference tournament title and their first in the SEC.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Texas A&M Head Coach G Guerrieri
On his team’s 2-1 win against South Carolina in the SEC Tournament Semifinals: I thought we came out in the first half, especially the first 15 minutes, and really showed what we can do. We had some really good play and two good goals against a very good defense and the conference Defensive Player of the Year [Sabrina D’Angelo]. To knock two past her so fast was nice. I thought that South Carolina did a good job of fighting back and getting themselves back in the game. The first five minutes of the second half were a little frustrating for us. Our players got themselves back into the second half and it was a good win. Now, we will try to win another trophy.
On Liz Keester’s two goals for the Aggies: Liz Keester’s family has come and vacationed here in Orange Beach for the last 10 years or so. I’m considering her a hometown kid now. So, for her to be able to get the two goals, she’s a hard worker, she’s got a good nose for goals and she’s strong. I’m really, really proud of her.
On playing in the SEC Tournament Championship on Sunday : We’re excited. We’ve talked with our team and with our fans what a big deal it is to be in the SEC, first off, and then to be playing for championships and in contention for those titles is one thing, but to get a chance like we did in the regular season to hoist the trophy and then to get a chance to play for another one here in the tournament final against a great team from Florida, that we shared the regular season with, is really exciting.
On facing top-seeded Florida on Sunday: We know a lot about Florida. We have a lot of respect for them and the way that they play. The power that they have, the grace and the technique that they play with is fun. At the same time, it will make for a very interesting chess match on Sunday. We have a lot of respect for their coaches and what they will bring, and we’re excited about the challenge.
Texas A&M Freshman Forward Liz Keester
On her two goals in Texas A&M’s 2-1 win against South Carolina in the SEC Tournament Semifinals: I always kind of joke because I really just score clean up goals. Shea [Groom] and BB [Bianca Brinson] really did all the work. I was just kind of there to poke it in.
On what it means to Texas A&M to advance to the SEC Tournament Championship: It means a lot considering that it’s only our second year [as a member of the SEC]. I think it shows just how talented we are that it’s our first couple of years in here, and we can make it and do big things.
On her familiarity with Orange Beach, Alabama: My family has been coming here for like 12 years for vacation, so it’s a local spot.
On facing top-seeded Florida in Sunday’s SEC Tournament Championship: I’m excited. It’s a rematch game for us. They got us in regular-season play and I think it will be a good redemption game for us.