Women’s Soccer Loses 2-1 to Texas A&M, Eliminated from NCAA Tournament
In a matchup of two of the best offenses in the NCAA, Texas A&M eliminated Penn State women’s soccer 2-1 to advance to the College Cup (Final Four). Allie Bailey was the biggest difference maker in the game in attack, as her two goals were enough to top the Nittany Lions. Penn State brought a barrage of shots with it (20), but could not find the net or beat A&M’s Jordan Day, who put on a clinic in recording seven saves.
In the fourth minute, Bailey received a ball from Annie Kunz and buried it past Britt Eckerstrom, who had five saves on the day. Instead of ending up on their heels, though, the Nittany Lions began an onslaught of their own. A number of great first half opportunities could not be converted, as a shot advantage still resulted in a 1-0 scoreline at the half.
The back-and-forth attacking battle finally resulted in a goal for Penn State when Salina Williford ripped a shot at the top of the 18-yard box off a Frannie Crouse pass to tie the game up in the 52nd minute. Unfortunately, that lead would not last, as Bailey struck again just five minutes later, giving A&M a 2-1 lead.
Penn State continued to threaten, as Mal Weber and Haleigh Echard both had great chances, but simply could not convert thanks to a series of blocks and clearances. The Nittany Lions sent bodies forward with borderline-reckless abandon in the last few minutes, resulting in several strong chances for the Aggies to extend their lead. As the clock ticked away, Penn State turned the ball over and A&M ran out the clock (there is no added or injury time in NCAA soccer), and the last gasp attacking effort was not enough. Possession and tempo varied but generally favored Penn State, but in the end the only number that truly matters is how many times you convert.
The Aggies will take on the Virginia Cavaliers in the College Cup, as another season ends in heartbreak for Erica Walsh’s women. The team was seeking its second College Cup appearance under Walsh. This squad, however, is brimming with young talent that is now hardened from a rigorous tournament run. Despite the disappointment in not being able to earn Penn State a fifth College Cup appearance, the Nittany Lions seem poised to return next season even stronger.