COLLEGE STATION, Texas - In a tightly contest match between two of the nation's top 20 team, the No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies were edged by the No. 18 Florida Gators, 2-1, at Ellis Field on Sunday afternoon.
Most of the key stats revealed the close-knit nature of the match, including an even ledger for shots at 19-19. Texas A&M owned a 9-7 edge in corner kicks and a 9-8 advantage in shots on goal, while Florida owned the margin in the save column at 8-6.
The loss dropped Texas A&M to third place in the SEC overall standings with 19 points. The Aggies trail Missouri and Florida who share the lead with 21 points. Missouri and Florida face each on Friday. A win by Mizzou would put Texas A&M back in control of its own destiny on the quest for an SEC title in its inaugural season. With five matches remaining, the Aggies lead Auburn by seven points in the SEC Western Division standings.
The Aggies controlled most of the first 21 minutes of action, but were unable to break the scoring seal. A&M had five corner kick opportunities in the first 20:33 and owned a 5-2 edge in shots, but came away empty-handed.
Texas A&M finally drew first blood in the 22nd minute of action. Beth West took the Aggies' sixth corner kick of the match and offered it into the goal area from the left corner arc. Shea Groom got her head on the ball and directed to the near post, finding the side netting for the 1-0 lead.
The Aggies rifled off a couple more shots in the next seven minutes, but were unable to add to the lead.
Florida took advantage of a foul one yard outside the penalty box to register an equalizer in the 30th minute. Jo Dragotta lined up the free kick three steps left of the left penalty box elbow and sent a shot goalward. Mckenzie Barney ran interference with a charge across the goal area in front of A&M netminder Jordan Day. The dummy run shielded the view of Day and Dragotta's shot bounced to the back netting to knot the score at 1-1.
The Gators would claim the lead in the 39th minute. Erika Tymrak played a short corner kick from the left corner arc to Havana Solaun at the left elbow of the penalty box. Solaun quickly jettisoned the ball to the foot of Adriana Leon who was settled in 15 yards in front of the goal. She converted the scoring opportunity for the 2-1 lead and Texas A&M found itself trailing at halftime for the first time all season.
Texas A&M had multiple scoring opportunities in the second half, but were unable to muster the tying goal.
With the loss, Texas A&M had its 12-game unbeaten string, the second-longest in school history, snapped. The Aggies also saw their 18-game home unbeaten string and nine-game home win streak halted.
Despite yielding two goals, Day had a strong effort between the pipes for Texas A&M. She made six saves, including a couple of spectacular stops in the second stanza that prevented Florida from adding insurance goals.
Taylor Burke went the distance in goal for Florida, making eight saves.
The Aggies pack their bags for their last two road games of the regular season next weekend. Texas A&M plays Arkansas on Friday in a 7 p.m. match and then heads to Vanderbilt for a 1 p.m. match on Sunday.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Coach G Guerrieri
Thoughts on the game: We got off to a good start. Shea (Groom) had a nice goal to put us ahead. There haven't been a lot of times this year where we've had a lead and haven't been able to hold it. My hat's off to Florida. They played fantastic. The goals that they scored were well conceived and well finished. They had some other chances, but I thought Jordan did a good job of snuffing them out. We had some great chances, I thought, we just weren't able to get them on frame. I thought it was probably a very entertaining game for the casual soccer observer. This was a good game for people to see what SEC soccer is all about. We just need to make sure that we win these games. We'll survive.
On the play from Jordan Day: I really don't blame her on either one of the goals they scored today, especially the second one. She did a good job. I'm disappointed because we didn't play our best. If you play a team that's like Florida, those are the games with the most on it, and we just weren't on today. Now we've got to get other people to help us out a little bit in conference. We still have five games to go. We've got to get better in the next five games.
On the Texas A&M celebration after its goal: I believe in passion and that you should play with passion. If you celebrate your accomplishments, that's not a bad thing. We'd just rather be celebrating at the end.