Texas A&M nips LSU in SEC soccer tourney to end the Tigers’ fall season

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – LSU became the first 14th seeded team to win two games in the Southeastern Conference soccer tournament. 

That will be the biggest takeaway from first-year coach Sian Hudson’s team after the Tigers pushed Texas A&M, the nation’s eighth-ranked team, to the brink but ultimately couldn’t overcome a first-half goal in a 1-0 loss in Wednesday’s quarterfinal match at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.

“I told our girls to keep their heads held high,” Hudson said. “I’m so proud of our effort. We dominated possession in that second half, but we just couldn’t get any of our chances in the back of the net.”

After a pair of upsets over Alabama and Ole Miss in the tourney’s first two round, LSU (2-7-2) played its third match in five days while Texas A&M (8-1) played its first match after receiving a double bye.

The Aggies advanced to their sixth semifinal in nine years.

LSU goalkeeper Mollee Swift recorded four of her seven saves during the first half but was unable to battle the wind and a high drifting A&M shot that found the back of the net in the 41st minute.

Texas A&M’s Jimena Lopez lined up for a 36-yard free kick that appeared to benefit from a gusting wind that took her attempt over a leaping Swift and into the left side of the net. It was LSU’s first deficit in the tournament.

LSU opted to play with a backline of three players, committing an additional player in its attack and the result was the Tigers outshot the Aggies 8-7 in the second half and 5-2 in shots on goal.

LSU had good looks from Wasila Diwura-Soale with a header that was wide of the goal following a corner kick in the 47th minute. Taylor Dobles and Molly Thompson each had one-hoppers that A&M goalie Kenna Caldwell collected as part of her season-high six saves that resulted in a SEC-leading fifth shutout.

Tinaya Alexander, who scored two goals in the tournament, came up with a steal in the 73rd minute and got inside the penalty area but sent a left-footed attempt wide to the left.

“The strides we made this season as a program were instrumental in what we are trying to accomplish here,” Hudson said. “I can’t thank this team enough for coming together and bringing a positive attitude to each and every training session and game we played. We will be back and are looking forward to the spring portion of our season.”

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Ron Higgins

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