Aggie soccer splits daunting road trip

The Texas A&M Women's Soccer team went 1-1 this weekend at the Nike Carolina Classic playing against some of the best teams in the nation.

The Aggies were unable to pull off a victory against a tough Carolina team that was playing for their first win of the season. The first 20-25 minutes was a defensive battle with the Tar Heels firing off a few shots out of frame but sharing possession with the Aggies.

The latter portion of the first half was a nightmare for the Aggies.

North Carolina scored two goals in a 5 minute span that made the Aggies look like they were playing on their heels.

"We came out in the first 25-30 minutes and did a good job as far as playing straight up, we did a good job of keeping possession, keeping them in trouble and being able to go back and forth. " said A&M head coach G Guerrieri. "Carolina was fantastic in the last 20 minutes of the first period and that was really the difference in the game."

The first goal was scored by substitute Meghan Klingenberg in the 36th minute off an assist from SoccerBuzz's preseason Player of the Year Yael Averbuch. The shot from Meghan soared just out of the reach of goalkeeper Kristin Arnold, and was the first goal surrendered by Arnold this season.

The second goal was scored by a streaking Mandy Moraca off the deflected shot of Sterling Smith. Kristin Arnold looked to have stopped an excellent shot 1-on-1 against Smith, however, the rebound was tracked down and put away for the eventual game winner.

The Aggies came out with fervor in the second half and senior All-American Ashlee Pistorius put the Aggies within one as she placed her shot into the far post from 18 yards out. The Aggies continued to apply pressure throughout the second half, however, in the final 45 minutes the two teams combined for only 5 shots and 1 corner kick.

"It's a tough loss, we felt like we just ran out of time," Guerrieri said.

North Carolina head coach Anson Dorrance said that the match was played just as he expected.

"That's typical of our games now between UNC and Texas A&M. They're just wonderfully hard played, and well-fought games," Dorrance said.

A&M came out firing on all cylinders on a hot Sunday afternoon on Fetzer Field. The Aggies sustained a dangerous amount of the possession for the entire game, giving Duke very few quality chances. A&M's passing looked crisp and on target which applied pressure to a solid Duke defense.

"Duke is a solid team," Guerrieri said. "This is now into their fifth or sixth game and it is the first time they have given up any goals and you can see why. They have a very solid defense and excellent goalkeeper and are very well organized. Robbie Church does a super job of keeping their pieces together to where they are a very stylish and technical team. To be able to come into their backyard and get a 2-0 shutout, especially after the very physical battle against Carolina (on Friday) is something our girls can really build on."

The Aggies first goal came off a cross from Paige Carmichael which found the head of Ashlee Pistorius, who fed a streaking Laura Grace Robinson who found the back of the net.

The Aggies continued to apply the offensive pressure but did not find the net again during the first half.

The second half of the game began with some Duke pressure that kept the Aggies on their heels and doubled the Duke shot count in the first five minutes from 3 to 6.

The Aggies defense held strong including a clearance off the line of a sure goal by Micha Stephens.

Duke was led by junior mid-fielder Lorraine Quinn who shined in the Blue Devils midfield and gave the Aggies fits with her athleticism.

Overall, the weekend will make the team stronger, however, the Aggies continue to struggle with consistency on the road against top ranked opponents.

With losses by top-five teams Portland, Notre Dame, Texas over the weekend it was the perfect opportunity to make a statement on the national scene. With the loss the Aggies may drop out of the top 5.

"It was a really tough weekend. It's always hard to leave our fans and play on the road. It was a really good game Friday night, just didn't go our way. Duke is great opponent and we came out and fought for the result we wanted," said Junior Micha Stephens.

The Aggies return to action next weekend against nationally ranked Penn State and West Virginia in State College, PA. The Aggies could easily come back to College Station and start conference play with a Top 5 ranking and one blemish in the loss column.

Aggie Websider's Weekly BB Awards:
Forward of the Week: Melissa Gary
Melissa scored her first goal of the 2007 season and applied great pressure in both games this weekend. She's playing with an extreme urgency to find the goal which causes problems for opposing teams' defenders. With her intensity A&M will continue to enhance its attack.

Midfielder of the Week: Laura Grace Robinson
LG had a great weekend. She scored a fantastic header goal against Duke and I felt like her departure during the first half of the UNC game hurt the rhythm in the mid-field. She fights for and wins most 50-50 balls she goes after.

Defender of the Week: Kristin Arnold
Kristin had some tremendously athletic saves in goal against some of the best talent the ACC could throw at the Aggies. Her reaction time is quick and she is extremely agile off the back line.

· Announced attendance of the A&M-UNC game was 4,495 – the 9th largest crowd at Fetzer Field.
· Three Texas players started the game for UNC – Jessica Maxwell (Colleyville) Kristi Eveland (Southlake), and Nikki Washington (Mesquite).
· The Aggies were called for offsides 8 times during the UNC game.
· This marked the second straight year the Tar Heels hosted a team ranked higher than themselves at Fetzer Field and only the third time that has happened since 1990. Florida State came to Fetzer ranked No. 1 in the Soccer America poll last year on September 21, 2006 and Heather O'Reilly's two goals boosted UNC to a 2-1 victory. Prior to that Carolina had not played a home game against a higher ranked team since 1990 against Virginia, a 3-0 UNC win on October 20, 1990.
· Freshman forward Whitney Hooper was sidelined during the Duke game due to an injury suffered during the UNC match.

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