COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Needing a win to secure a share of their first-ever SEC regular-season crown, the No. 24 Texas A&M Aggies delivered with a 3-2 victory over the LSU Tigers at Ellis Field on Thursday night.
The triumph gave the Maroon and White a 9-2-0 ledger in league play and the Aggies' share the SEC title with the Florida Gators who also finished with 27 points.
Texas A&M (14-4-1) broke the scoring seal in the 14th minute of action. Kelley Monogue sent a corner kick in from the left arc and found the head of Shea Groom in the six-yard box. Groom put the offering into the back of the net for her 12th goal of the season.
The Aggies dominated the flow of play in the first half, but were only able to take a 1-0 lead into the intermission. A&M owned decisive advantages in shots (14-0) and shots-on-goal (9-0) in the opening stanza.
Texas A&M scored an insurance goal in the 56th minute. Groom stole the ball from a Tigers' defender on the right side of the penalty box arc and dumped a pass off to Allie Bailey who was charging into the box from the left side. Bailey threaded the needle to beat keeper Megan Kinneman, who came off her line to the top of the six-yard box, to the left side but also keep the ball inside the left post for the 2-0 lead.
LSU would answer Bailey's goal 16 seconds later. Emma Fletcher slotted a pass into the left side of the penalty box to Summer Clarke. Clarke found herself in an enviable position 12 yards out and beat A&M keeper Jordan Day low and to the left to cut the A&M lead to 2-1 with 34:11 remaining in the second half.
The Aggies would take advantage of an LSU defensive lapse to reclaim a two-goal lead in the 65th minute. When a Tigers' defender misplayed a pass from the keeper, Liz Keester stripped her clean just inside the penalty box. Keester found Annie Kunz unmarked a yard left of the penalty spot and Kunz beat a charging keeper to the right for the 3-1 edge.
The Tigers would keep things interesting in the 74th minute. Nina Anderson launched a missile from 12 yards out. Day was able to make the save, but Clarke corralled the carom and drove it home from eight yards out to trim the lead to 3-2 with her second goal of the match.
A&M was able to milk the clock by going on the offensive, taking the last five shots and last two corner kicks of the match.
For the game, the Aggies owned wide margins in shots (31-4), shots-on-goal (16-3) and corner kicks (7-1).
Day earned her 46th career win in net, making one save. Bailey, Groom and Bianca Brinson both rifled off shots as A&M had nine different players take two or more shots in the game.
Kinneman put in a heroic effort for LSU with 13 saves. Clarke took two of the Tigers' four shots, scoring on both chances.
It marks the eighth regular-season league title for A&M, which captured seven as a member of the Big 12. Last season, in their first year in the SEC, the Aggies won the SEC Western Division title, but finished second to Florida in overall standings.
The Aggies will be the No. 2 seed at the 2013 SEC Women's Soccer Tournament in Orange Beach, Alabama. Texas A&M returns to action on Wednesday when they will face either LSU or Auburn in the Second Round at the Orange Beach Sportsplex in Alabama. Match time is slated for Noon Central.