Aggies punch ticket to title game
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. -- No. 6 seed Texas A&M will make its third consecutive appearance in the SEC Soccer Tournament Championship game after defeating No. 7 seed LSU 1-0 in Friday's semifinal match.
After a scoreless first half, Texas A&M freshman forward Emily Bates notched the lone goal in the 74th minute on an assist from All-SEC midfielder Mikaela Harvey. The goal was Bates' seventh of the season and second of the tournament.
"I saw Miki (Mikaela Harvey) turn and start dribbling," said Bates. "I just tried to find a gap that she could play it through. Before I knew it the ball was there and perfectly placed. I hit it one time and tried to put it somewhere the keeper couldn't get it."
The Aggies held advantages across the board, including 23-9 in shots, 7-2 in shots-on-goal and 7-4 in corner kicks.
It marked the fifth consecutive shutout for Texas A&M in SEC Tournament action, extending their tournament scoreless string to 512 minutes. LSU was held scoreless in a match for just the third time this season.
"I'm really proud of this team," said Texas A&M head coach G Guerrieri. "They're a young group, but that continues to learn and grow and on Sunday they have a chance to do something special. We knew we could win the battle in the midfield and build up an attack from there. LSU is a good defense and put up a wall that was hard to penetrate, but we kept chipping away."
LSU goalkeeper Catalina Rubiano kept the Tigers in the match when they were pushing for an equalizer in the final minutes. She denied both Hayley Pounds in the 83rd minute and Ally Watt in the 84th minute on breakaway opportunities to keep the score at 1-0. The Tigers came up short in their bid for a spot in the SEC Tournament Championship game for just the second time in team history.
"I'm so proud of our players in the way they approached this tournament and put themselves in an even better position to get back to the NCAA Tournament next week," LSU head coach Brian Lee said. "It's never easy to play two matches on a weekend in a league like the SEC, and to come here and play three matches in five days and come so close to the final says a lot about their character and resilience as a team."
The Aggies improved to 15-5-1 while the Tigers fell to 13-5-4.
Texas A&M extended their SEC Tournament win streak to eight matches, the second longest string in tournament history, trailing just a 20-game win streak by Florida in the late 1990s.
Two-time defending SEC Tournament champion Texas A&M faces top-seeded Florida in the SEC Soccer Tournament Championship match on Sunday. The title game airs on ESPNU at 2 p.m. ET/1 p.m. CT.