COLLEGE STATION, Texas – The No. 16 Virginia Tech women’s soccer team battled but came up short to No. 11 Texas A&M, 5-3, in its first of two games in the Aggieland Invitational. The Aggies took the edge over the Hokies in numerous statistical categories, but Tech fought the entire game and shared the offensive responsibilities as seniors Kelsey Billups, Jennifer Harvey and Marika Gray each put away a goal. For Texas A&M, Alyssa Mautz led the offense with three scores.
The Aggies (2-1-0) came out strong with more than 5,500 fans behind them, firing on the Hokies (2-1-0) early in the game. Tech’s freshman keeper Dayle Colpitts was put to work early in the game and rose to the occasion as she denied a number of quality attempts on goal from A&M, doing everything she could to keep the ball out of the net.
The Hokies would be the first on the board in the 27th minute when Gray drew two defenders as she brought the ball towards the goal on the left side of the field. She slipped it to Billups, who handled it quickly, while falling, and sent it towards the opposite side of the net, just out of reach of the diving keeper.
Minutes later the Aggies put away the equalizer when Bri Young served the ball into the middle of the penalty box and a crowd of players went up for it, including Colpitts, but A&M’s Rachel Lenz was able to get above Colpitts to head the ball into the open net to make it a 1-1 game.
In the 33rd minute, a mishap in the box would allow the Aggies another scoring opportunity when a Tech defender was whistled for a hand ball just inside the 18. Rachel Shipley took the penalty kick for A&M and snuck it just out of Colpitts’ reach into the back of the net.
The Aggies’ attack continued into the 35th minute, when they were able to go up 3-1 after Colpitts misjudged a cross from Young off a free kick. Colpitts again leaped into a battling crowd, but the ball soared over everyone and fell to the foot of Mautz, who was waiting just beyond the pack and knocked the ball into the once again wide-open net.
With just under a minute remaining in the first half, Tech struck again and narrowed A&M’s lead when sophomore Kelsey Mitchell crossed the ball in to Gray, who controlled it with her head and slipped it under the arms of the diving keeper, into the opposite side of the net to make the game 3-2 heading into the break.
After outshooting the Hokies 13-4 in the first half, the Aggies wasted no time in the second half, extending their lead to 4-2 in the opening minutes. Colpitts made a big save on the initial shot from Merrit Mathais but with the ball still loose, Whitney Hooper tracked down the rebound and got it to Mautz who had an open look at the net from just inside the penalty box, as Colpitts was still recovering.
The Hokies were awarded a penalty kick opportunity of their own in the 70th minute after an A&M foul in the box and Harvey remained perfect as she put the pressure-shot away to again inch Tech closer and make the score 4-3.
Catching the Hokies off guard after the score, the Aggies immediately went straight for the net from the midfield reset and Mautz was able to put in her third and final goal of the game on a pass from Hooper.
Tech moved and controlled the ball better in the second half and capitalized on its opportunities on goal more efficiently than its opponent, sinking three of its six shots on target while A&M buried five of its 16 shots on goal.
Colpitts made her third start of the year and recorded a career-high 11 saves. Kristin Arnold manned the pipes for the Aggies and finished the evening with three saves.
Tech will return to action on Sunday, August 29 and will take on Long Beach State at 11:30 a.m. in its final game at the Aggieland Invitational.
For updates on Virginia Tech women's soccer, follow the Hokies on Twitter (@VT_WSoccer).