COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS – The No. 12 Texas A&M Aggies were edged out by the No. 7 Duke Blue Devils, 1-0, in front of an enthusiastic crowd of 5,242 at Ellis Field on Friday evening. The match marked the season opener for both squads.
Duke notched the lone goal of the match in the 52nd minute of action. Freshman Toni Payne weaved down to the penalty spot and offered an outlet pass to senior Kim DeCesare on the right flank. DeCesare took two dribbles and uncorked a shot from the right corner of the six-yard area to the left of Aggie netminder Jordan Day and into the side netting for the 1-0 lead.
The Blue Devils’ goal gave Duke a 12-5 edge in shots through 52 minutes. Texas A&M was able to outshoot Duke 7-5 down the stretch, including 5-1 in the final 12 minutes but the Aggies were unable to find the back of the net for the equalizer.
A&M had three prime opportunities to score in the final four minutes, but misfired. With just less four minutes left in the contest junior Shea Groom sent a cross in from the left to an unmarked Liz Keester towards the right post, but the offering missed finding the freshman’s boot by a yard. Groom had a shot blocked from eight yards out with 3:00 showing on the clock. With 1:15 remaining, junior Kelley Monogue sent a corner kick in from the left side and found the head of Annie Kunz, but the junior’s header went two feet high of the left upper ninety.
Day, the Aggie junior goaltender, made five saves in a valiant effort in goal for A&M. In the 36th minute she staved off a pair of shots at point-blank range by DeCesare to keep the contest scoreless going into the intermission.
Sophomore Ali Kershner went the distance in goal for Duke making three saves in the shutout.
Groom registered a team-high four shots, including two on goal. Keester added a pair of shots.
DeCesare led all players with six shots, including fur on goal. Senior Kaitlyn Kerr took four shots and junior Kelly Cobb and senior Laura Weinberg added three apiece.
In addition to the advantage in shots, Duke held the margins in shots-on-goal (6-3), but corner kicks were even at 5-5.
Texas A&M returns to action on Sunday when the Aggies host the UTSA Roadrunners in a 7 pm match at Ellis Field.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
Texas A&M Head Coach G Guerrieri
Opening Statement: “I thought it was a really well played game. My hat’s off to Duke. They played a heck of a goal. Their goal came on a couple defensive errors on our part that allowed her to get the ball in the back of the net. I thought Jordan (Day) had a really good night. The game came down to who finished the chances that they had. They finished theirs. We didn’t finish ours. Three shots-on-goal was a little disappointing for us. We were able to put them in some tough situations from the opening kick, we just squandered them. It’s a tough loss because you hate to lose to a team that you respect like Duke, but it’s something we can learn from. We can look at ourselves and learn from it. We can look at them and learn from it.”
On easing off the pressure from the start of the game: “I think we let off of them. It’s a learning experience based on how we’re going to play. This team we played tonight was a Final Four caliber team. If you don’t stay on the edge of your game and keep it moving, they can punish you for it. Duke did a good job. You can’t take anything away from them. It wasn’t like we lost this game. They found a way to win it. We have to learn from it and move on.”
Senior Defender Rachel Lenz
On the positives of the game: “There are definitely some positive things that we can learn from this game and some things we can learn from. We’re way ahead of where we were last year.”
On transitioning from offense to defense as a team: “It helps the defense work so well when we start at the top of the field. Our forwards do a great job. It really fires us up when they’re winning tackles 30 yards from the goal. It’s great for them to win it up high.