COLLEGE STATION, Texas - The Central Michigan women’s soccer team turned in a solid defensive effort at No. 14 Texas A&M, but ultimately fell to the Aggies, 2-0, Sunday afternoon on goals in the first and final five minutes of the match.
The Chippewas (4-2-1) turned up the defensive pressure in the second half and had several opportunities to tie the match, but the strong, physical Aggies team (6-1) took control in the final 15 minutes to put the match away.
“Today we had to go to Texas A&M and get physical, dig in and try to get technical with our play, and we actually did that at times,” head coach Neil Stafford said. “I thought we did a great job defensively and stayed organized again. We were a little bit too inconsistent with certain duties we had asked the players to perform, and that ultimately hurt us.”
Central Michigan allowed just one shot on goal in the first 30 minutes of the second half, but the Aggies took three, including a goal, in the final 15 minutes.
Texas A&M was the fifth team the Chippewas have played this season that has either been ranked or has received national ranking votes - all on the road or at neutral sites. The Chippewas have gone 2-2-1 against these opponents, including wins over West Virginia and Dayton, and a 0-0 draw with No. 12 Marquette.
‘We’ve been doing a ton of traveling to play these top teams and I’m proud of the way we’ve played most of the time,” Stafford said. “I think these games have done exactly what we’ve wanted for us so far and hopefully we can finish the non-conference schedule on a strong note against Purdue on Wednesday before heading into the Mid-American Conference schedule.”
The Aggies struck first with a goal in the fifth minute when Katy Perry cut back to the middle of the attacking third and fired a shot from 25 yards away that found the upper left corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
The Chippewas fended off another Aggie attempt in the 23rd minute when a cross from the right baseline made its way into the box just outside the goal, and senior goalkeeper Stefanie Turner deflected a Texas A&M chip shot.
Turner recorded seven saves on the day.
Two minutes later Turner came up big again when she came out of the goal and made a diving deflection on a low shot after a Texas A&M player broke free into the box with the ball.
The Aggies again attempted to extend their lead as the clock ticked to zero in the first half, but Turner saved a Texas A&M shot on goal to the far post fired from outside the penalty box to keep the Chippewas within one goal heading into the half.
Central Michigan had goal scoring attempts of its own in the first half, including shots on goal by senior defender Katie Slaughter and junior midfielder Kaely Schlosser within five minutes of one another in the 30th and 35th minutes, respectively. Freshman Danielle Rotheram also took a shot on goal for the Chippewas.
Freshman defender Ali Russo started the Chippewa offense early in the second with a shot one minute into the half toward the left post from just outside the penalty box on the right side that was saved by the Aggie goalkeeper Jordan Day.
Turner continued her strong goalkeeping in the second half, collecting a low shot by Texas A&M’s Annie Kunz toward the middle of the goal on a diving save in the 63rd minute. Kunz possessed the ball in the box off of a high pass, and turned and fired a quick shot on one touch.
With just nine minutes remaining, the Aggies’ Chelsea Jones made run up the middle of the field into the box, but Turner came off the line and met Jones midway into the box to smother the ball and avert the Texas A&M opportunity.
The Aggies scored a second goal off a counter-attack in the 85th minute when the Aggies crossed into the box from the left baseline for a six-yard shot from Jones that found its way past Turner.
The Chippewas finished with 10 shots, three on goal, while allowing nine shots on goal and 19 total shots to the Aggies. Rotheram took a team-high three shots, while Slaughter and senior defender Bailey Brandon each took two.
Upon returning to Michigan the Chippewas have a short turnaround before traveling to West Lafayette, Ind., for the non-conference finale with Purdue at 7 p.m. MAC play begins Friday, Sep. 21, with the official home opener against Kent State at 4:30 p.m.