A&M soccer tunes up for big road trips

Before heading to North Carolina for key matches against North Carolina and Duke, the Aggies kicked off the 2007 season with two wins this weekend. Aggie Websider's Blake Berend was there and has the latest from the Aggie Soccer Stadium.

The Aggies came through with two victories this weekend in preparation for what is arguably the hardest road trip for any women's college soccer team in the nation this season.

A rainy Friday game against the Darthmouth Big Green proved to be difficult, as the Aggies first real outing was against a defense that packed eight behind the ball at all times. Dartmouth limited a normally potent A&M offense to just 11 shots, five of which were on goal. The 5,008 fans in attendance saw the first goal which came off of a penalty kick due to a hand ball in the box.

Senior Ashlee Pistorious easily beat the keeper to put the Aggies up 1-0 in the 23rd minute.

"I thought tonight was really a workman-like effort," said A&M head coach G. Guerrieri. "I was pleased that we were able to break down a very well organized defense and a team that played really hard."

The Aggies controlled much of the possession for the rest of the first half and into the second, but could not convert again until Amber Gnatzig's low shot from the right wing found the back of the net.

"I thought Dartmouth did a great job of trying to condense spaces and keep it where we weren't going to have any real open breaks," Guerrieri said.

Darthmouth was not afraid to be physical, recording 16 fouls to A&M's six. Both Amy Berend and Ashlee Pistorious received yellow cards during the match.

The fifth Ranked Aggies continued their successful ways on Sunday night against the College of Charleston before another packed house.

"We really wanted to concentrate on intensity and that we were going to take the game to our opponent—which is what we want to do all the time," Guerrieri said. "We're going to play a lot of teams who are very similar to what we saw Friday night, very organized, a lot of people behind the ball. It is up to our team to take ownership of the game, to take control and put the game in a pace that we like and also to have to pull them out of their shape. I thought all the attacking movements tonight were very good, a big improvement over just two nights ago."

Wasting no time in applying the pressure to Charleston, the Aggies converted their first goal in the fifth minute in front of 3,131 fans as senior Allison Martino's free kick passed through the box untouched by the defense and into the back of the net. Credit also goes to All-American Ashlee Pistorius for shielding the goalie's view.

Two minutes later Pistorius added her own goal off a cross by freshman Rachel Shipley. Pistorius beat the keeper one-on-one with a shot that spun off and over the goalie to find the back of the net.

The second half proved to be more of the same for the Aggies. Pistorius added another tally off an incredible pass through from Melissa Garey. Garey added another assist as she set up fellow senior captain Amy Berend with a pass. Berend fired a rocket from the top of the box into the upper right corner of the goal.

The Cougar's best scoring chance came late in the game as freshman goal keeper Kelly Dyer misplayed a pass-back from Nicold Ketchum. College of Charleston's Christian Patton chipped a shot which seemed headed for the goal but was knocked off the end line by a streaking Michah Stephens.

"Again, two wins on the weekend, two shutouts and two real good crowds (8,000 plus combined)." Guerreri added. "I was pleased all the way around."



Aggie Websider's Weekly BB Awards

Aggie Websider Defender of the Week:
Micha Stevens – seemed to be everywhere – her speed allowed her to shut down every forward she faced – her header to save the shut-out on Sunday night solidified my choice

Aggie Websider Midfielder of the Week:
Rachel Shipley – Awesome job with her debut on this Aggie team – she came in with a laundry list of honors and she lived up to the hype – smart, determined, and a never die attitude

Aggie Websider Forward of the Week:
Ashlee Pistorius – 3 goals on any given weekend can get you my selection, but against two teams who bunkered down like these two makes it more impressive – need her goal support and her control this weekend in North Carolina



Blake's Random Thoughts:

• With #1 North Carolina losing to an unranked South Carolina team 1-0, #2 UCLA losing to #9 Texas 2-1, #3 Notre Dame drawing with an unranked Michigan team 0-0, A&M could go into this weekend as the #2 ranked team behind Portland who beat #6 Florida State 2-1 at home in front of 4,892 fans

• If A&M is ranked #2 next weekend it will be the highest ranking ever in the program's history

• A&M travels the next two weekends to face currently ranked #1 North Carolina, #22 Duke, #21 Penn State, and #18 West Virginia

• Freshman Whitney Hooper did not play on Sunday night because of what looked to be a minor injury during warm-ups, not sure of her status for the upcoming weekend




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