Nov. 13, 2009

BATON ROUGE, La. - Junior Whitney Hooper scored two goals and added an assist to lead the No. 22 Texas A&M soccer team to a 3-1 win over Memphis in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Friday evening at the LSU Soccer Complex.

Hooper set up the first goal of the match and netted the next two scores, including the game-winner, to move A&M (15-6-2) to the second round for the 13th time in program history. Memphis ends its season at 16-7.

The Aggies advance to face the winner of LSU/Arkansas-Pine Bluff on Sunday at 1 p.m.

"We're excited to be able to win an NCAA game," said head coach G Guerrieri. "Anytime that you have a chance to move on in this tournament is great. Memphis was outstanding tonight. You can look statistically at the game and it was an even game in a lot of ways, but our defense was able to step up and close down the game.

"To beat a well-organized, talented team like Memphis was going to take some really good goals and we're fortunate that we have Whitney and that she scored those two. It was a nice way for us to get through the first game of the tournament."

The Aggies got out to a quick start and put their second shot into the back of the net in the sixth minute. Down the right flank, Hooper dribbled around a Memphis defender to the end line and found freshman Nora Skelton at the top of the box. Skelton passed back to an unmarked Alyssa Mautz and the junior midfielder slipped a slow-roller past the Lady Tiger defensive and inside the near post from 10 yards.

"Getting that early goal was a great way to start off the game because it put us in control and gave us the ability to attack more," commented Guerrieri.

Five minutes later, Hooper gathered a long pass from senior Emily Peterson on the right side in A&M's attacking third and went towards goal. From 12 yards out, she chipped a shot over the goalkeeper's head and into the far-side netting to put A&M up 2-0.

Memphis cut the lead in half in the 17th minute. A long pass to the Lady Tigers' leading scorer, Ashley Berra, ended in a goal into far-side netting from 10 yards on the left side.

The Aggies answered and regained their two-goal lead in the 25th minute. Shortly after a throw-in on the left side, Hooper dribbled through the Memphis defense and buried her second goal of the match and 10th of the season from eight yards.

The A&M defense played strong through the end of the first half, fending off six shots in the final 15 minutes. Memphis held a slight edge in shots at the 15-minute break, 8-7, but shots on goal were even at four apiece.

Most of the second half was played in the middle third of the field. The Aggies really closed down the game and limited Memphis to just two shots in the period, one of which forced second-half goalkeeper Kristin Arnold to deflect the ball off the cross bar for a remarkable save.

A&M had two scoring opportunities in the half, the most dangerous coming 20 minutes into the period. Freshman Lyndsey Gnatzig controlled the ball on the left side in A&M's offensive third and sent a cross to Hooper whose header at the edge of the six-yard box was blocked by a Lady Tiger defender.

Hooper posted a game-high four shots, while Shipley and Mautz fired off two each. Memphis maintained minor advantage in shots, 10-9, and the two teams were even with two corner kicks each.

"We have a very young side and the experience they are gaining on their feet, on the field is really great. It speaks well for us to be able to use as many players as we did because we know that no matter the opponent on Sunday it's going to be a tough match."