COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Sophomore goalkeeper Jordan Day made SEC history with her seventh consecutive shutout as the Texas A&M Aggies blanked the Auburn Tigers, 2-0, at Ellis Field on Sunday afternoon for their ninth consecutive victory.
With the win, Day tied the SEC record for most consecutive shutouts by a goalkeeper, matching the mark set by South Carolina's Mollie Patton in 2009. The Aggies' defense extended their scoreless streak to 696 minutes.
The win moved Texas A&M to 10-1-0 overall and 4-0-0 in the SEC. With 12 points, the Aggies' lead in the SEC Western Division ballooned to six points with A&M now leading second-place Ole Miss, who has six points after a 1-0 win against Alabama on Sunday.
It marks the first time the Aggies have started 4-0-0 in league action since the 2006 campaign. That year, Texas A&M rattled off wins against Baylor, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma to start Big 12 play.
Texas A&M drew first blood with 7:12 remaining in the first half as senior Catalina Clavijo scored her first goal since August 30, 2009. Sophhomore Bianca Brinson was the catalyst on the goal as she went full sprint chasing a ball into the penalty box from the right side. After eluding a defender, Brinson worked the ball to the end line at the edge of the goal area. The Tigers' goalkeeper Amy Howard took the bait and approached Brinson to halt the assault. Brinson centered to Clavijo who was unmarked and Clavijo knocked the ball into the evacuated goal for the 1-0 lead.
With Auburn turning up the offensive intensity in the second half, the Maroon and White was able to breathe easier after scoring on a set piece for the fourth consecutive game with just over five minutes remaining in the contest. Jayne Eadie launched a free kick into the penalty box from 40 yards out. The ball hit the crossbar squarely and bounced back to Beth West 10 yards in front of the goal. The senior captain knocked the ball past a disoriented Auburn netminder and into the top netting for the insurance goal and a 2-0 advantage.
The Aggies' shutout streak was in jeopardy on two notable occasions. In the first half, Auburn's Alexa Allen fired a cannon shot across the front of the bow from the right flank. Day was able to get a glove on the ball and the ricochet hit the left post. A little more than one minute after A&M's first goal, Ana Cate got her head on a cross six yards in front of the box, but sent it wide right.
Texas A&M's best uncapitalized scoring chance came with 20:11 remaining in the first half. Shea Groom boomed a cross into the goal area from the right side. An errant clear by an Auburn defender sent the carom goalward where Howard had to punch the ball over the goal to keep the Aggies off the scoreboard.
The Maroon and White's current nine-game win streak is the longest by the Aggies since the 2007 season when they won 10 consecutive games.
The Aggies return to action on Friday when they travel to Lexington for a 6 p.m. contest against the Kentucky Wildcats.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Head Coach G Guerrieri
On how well the game was played: I think in the first half we did a really good job of controlling the pace. In the second half, it was a Sunday game in the SEC where it's going to be tough and physical. There are a lot of good athletes out there who are going to be able to break everything down. Clearly it was not a beautiful win, but winning is beautiful. We'll take a win when we can get it.
On the play of Annie Kunz: Annie had a great first half. She had a great game. But one of the things that's really a great thing for us to see is that it's not always Annie Kunz, Kelley Mongue, or Shea Groom scoring the goals. We got a goal from [Catalina] Clavijo. We got a great insurance goal from our captain Beth West. We get a lot of good chances from restarts. And we had another outstanding performance by Jordan Day in the goal.
On the first goal: When Bianca Brinson can see ball-in-goal she's a force to be reckoned with. She was on a mission there. And being able to find her friend in front of the goal was great. That's what it came down to.
On the seniors scoring goals: It was good. They're both great personalities on the team. They're both important players for the team. They both scored in key times when we needed them to be on the field. Beth is a great calming force for us when she's on the field. We put her out there when things are getting a little frantic. Clavijo was in there at the end of the first half to try and put pressure on them. Her and BB do a great job of having them try and rush balls out of the back. I couldn't be happier for those guys. Two great girls and two necessary goals.
On changing up the backline: I think they were tired. Most of those guys on the backline played a 90 minute game on Friday and then they played about 75 minutes today. It was hot and humid today. They had a lot of pressure on them from Auburn's big and athletic front line. That Auburn team was filled with big, tall, athletic players.
On the pressure Auburn applied: A few times they took advantage of us being a little hesitant to come up and get balls. Jordan did a great job. Had she not come out for a couple of shots they would've been able to put an open header on goal. The ball, even though it is round, bounces funny some times.
Senior forward Catalina Clavijo
On her celebration: Growing up, I always watched a lot of soccer with my family. You always see the pros do something crazy celebrations. I grew up in that environment. I was so excited.
On Bianca Brinson's assist: BB did all the hard work. She did an awesome job of chasing the ball down. Then she shoved the other girl off and chipped it to me. All I had to do was put something on it to get it in. I knew once BB took it to the sideline that she was going to try and cross it back. I just put myself in a position that I thought I could get it in. Luckily it went in.
On Beth West's goal: It's always great to see seniors score. It always makes us all happy.
On her role: When I go on, I take every opportunity that I have to work 100%. I give everything I have for the team so that's what I do.