CHAPEL HILL, North Carolina – The No. 13 Texas A&M Aggies advanced to the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Division I Women’s Soccer Championship, topping the No. 18 Texas Tech Red Raiders in a penalty kick shootout, 4-3, after the two squads played to a 2-2 draw through two overtime periods at Fetzer Field.
The shooters were perfect in the first two round for both teams in the shootout with Tech’s Jessica Fuston, A&M’s Allie Bailey, Tech’s Erin Inman and A&M’s Meghan Streight all burying their shots in the back of the net.
Jordan Day stepped into the limelight on Tech’s attempt to start the third round of kicks. The Red Raiders Jade Dapaah went to the right side, but Day pounced on the shot before it went inside the post. Kristi Leonard followed with a successful attempt for A&M to give the Aggies a 3-2 advantage after three rounds.
In the fourth round, Tech’s Janine Beckie and A&M’s Rachel Lenz both made their shots to set up Day’s match-ending heroics in the fifth round.
Day once again guessed the correct way and made a diving save of Alli Murphy’s shot to send the Aggies to their 12th Sweet Sixteen appearance.
Texas A&M (18-4-2) held the offensive advantage in the first half, but the teams went into the intermission knotted at 0-0. The Aggies’ owned the edge in shots (11-4), shots-on-goal (3-2) and corner kicks (3-1).
Coming out of the locker room, Tech struck quickly to take the momentum. Alli Murphy served a long ball down the center of the pitch and found Briana Rohmer who split a pair of Aggie defenders and took advantage of a one-on-one opportunity with Day to give the Red Raiders a 1-0 lead 1:15 into the second half.
The Aggies continued the offensive pressure and it finally paid off in the 61st minute. With the ball being knocked around the penalty box following an A&M corner kick, Janae Cousineau headed the ball into the six-yard box and Annie Kunz followed with a header into the back of the net for her fifth goal of the season, knotting the match at 1-1.
Texas Tech (18-2-3) reclaimed the lead in the 75th minute on a counter attack. The Red Raiders defense played a long ball to Beckie who controlled the ball 40 yards out and charged into the penalty box. Beckie weaved around Day and found a near empty net with defender Streight, standing on the backline, as the only obstacle. Beckie drilled the past Streight for the 2-1 advantage.
With the Maroon and White’s season appearing to wane, the Aggies took advantage of a set piece in the 84th minute to keep the campaign alive. Allie Bailey served up a free kick from the left touchline, 10 yards off the endline. Bailey’s service found Rachel Lenz’s head just outside the six-yard box. Lenz’s shot hit the crossbar, but deflected back Groom who sent it home the equalizer with a header of her own.
Both squads had opportunities to end the match in overtime. In the first OT period, Tech had three corner kick opportunities in the first five minutes but couldn’t convert. With one minute remaining in the second overtime, Kunz sent a long ball to Groom and the mercurial junior found herself in an enviable position eight yards out, but couldn’t find the net, sending a shot across the bow.
For the match, A&M held decisive margins in shots (34-13), shots-on-goal (13-7) and corner kicks (9-5), but Tech’s defense, which had allowed just seven goals in 22 matches on the season, put forth a heroic effort.
Victoria Esson made 10 saves, including four punches over the cross bar and a pair of diving saves. The Red Raiders’ backline also had a defensive save.
Day made five saves on the afternoon for the Aggies.
Texas A&M returns to action on Sunday when the Aggies will play either Indiana or North Carolina in a match slated for 12 pm Central at Fetzer Field.