The Colorado College women’s soccer team was one half away from beating one of the top DI teams in the country this past weekend. The Tigers traveled to College Station, Texas to face the Aggies of Texas A&M University on Sept. 7 in a matchup against one of the best teams they have faced in several years.

Photo courtesy of CC Athletics

A&M entered the game with a No. 5 ranking, boasting a 7–0. The Tigers arrived with a 3-1 record, but the clear underdogs gave the Aggies their all.

Co-captain Kelli Sullivan ’19 aimed her pregame talk to emphasize how competitive CC could be against even the strongest opponents. “Lauren [CC’s other captain], the coaches, and I emphasized that we deserved to be there just as much as they did,” Sullivan said. “We talked about staying true to our tactical plan and everyone doing their job.”

The Tigers’ tactical plan involved switching up their defensive formation to include a sweeper to play  behind the center backs. The plan paid off, and the Tigers battled through poor conditions in the first half to go into the halftime break tied at 0-0. Forward Catie McDonald ’20 spoke on the extreme weather they faced during the game but praised how the team dealt with it: “There was a torrential downpour in the second part of the first half,” McDonald said. “But we were playing really well.”

Following a substantial halftime lightning delay, the Tigers started the second half aggressively. In the 55th minute, the Tigers got their reward for their fight as forward Jacqui Hand ’22 pounced on a knockdown from a free kick for a 1-0 lead. “We had a free kick near half and served it in where Kiley Suter got something on it,” McDonald said. “The ball fell across the box, and Jacqui Hand was able to finish it.” The goal was even more impressive considering CC is only the second team to score against A&M this season.

Unfortunately, the lead didn’t last long, as the Aggies went on to score an equalizer less than five minutes later. Then in the 71st minute, A&M had a series of corner kicks, the last of which was converted as the Aggies held their first lead of the match. They would go on to hold the lead as the Tigers ultimately dropped the match 2-1.

“Everyone was pretty bummed out because we thought we could win,” Sullivan said about the team’s mindset after the close loss. “But we were really hungry for more since we played well, and we’re proud of that. We know now we can compete with any team in the country after pushing A&M so far.”

Despite the ultimately disappointing result, there were some positives to take away from the performance. “It wasn’t one of those games where we felt as if we should’ve lost,” McDonald said. “You’re bummed because you could’ve gotten a result.”

CC’s defensive changes made a striking impact, as the defense put in an exceptional performance. “Our whole backline honestly deserves a medal,” McDonald said. “They did not have an easy night.”

Hand’s goal earned her significant praise from teammates. “Jacqui’s goal was sensational, especially on a keeper who has shut out a lot of games this season,” Sullivan said.

However, the emphasis remains on the team chemistry and the maturity they showed in pushing such a strong team to the brink. “The coolest thing about Friday was that it was a real team effort,” Sullivan said. “Every player got on the field and knew their role, making something happen.”

The Tigers are looking to bounce back and get a win on Friday, Sept. 14 against the University of Houston on Stewart Field. 

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