“SEC Soccer Champions” – That sure sounds good. And I sure am proud of these Aggie Soccer players and my incredible coaching staff and support personnel.
To win this championship a number of talented, unselfish people had to perform their job, role, and position to fullest and be able to work under pressure, along side other talented people to overcome some huge challenges, setbacks, heartaches, and find ways to win, over and over in the nation’s toughest league. That’s exactly what the people in the Texas A&M soccer program just did.
This our 17th conference championship in the past twenty years! I’m proud of all of those trophies and of the teams (players and staff) who won them. But as we return from the SEC Tournament with this big new trophy it’s hard to put any other conference championship higher than this one. This run through the SEC has been a special ride.
I am so proud of the spirit in this team. It’s as tight-knit a group of young women as we’ve had in my 25 years in Aggieland. They believe in each other and haven’t been shaken by adversity. No matter the setback they step up and overcome it! They’ve come from behind to win games. They’ve outlasted opposition, scoring the winning goal after the 87th minute (six separate times)! And they’ve won with style and grit (a difficult combination) because they love, trust, and have confidence in each other.
Texas A&M’s win over Arkansas in the SEC Championship Game tied a program record of 13 consecutive wins. Thirteen wins in a row in the SEC!!
In 2017 the Southeastern Conference is the nation’s #1 rated league. Did you know that 11 of the 14 SEC soccer programs ended the regular season ranked in the National Top 50 of the RPI? There are 334 division one women’s soccer programs across the NCAA, and 11 of the best fifty are in our league!
Now it’s on to the NCAA Championship Tournament! The Aggies have been selected as a #2 seed in the tournament and will play at home this Friday night! We will be hosting the Lamar Cardinals at 7:30pm at Ellis Field! Lamar defeated SFA yesterday in the Southland Conference Championship game to reach the NCAAs for the first time in history.
Unlike the NCAA Basketball Tournament, which seeds every team in the tournament, the women’s soccer tournament only has sixteen seeded teams; 4 number 1 seeds, 4 number 2s, 4 3s, and 4 4s. Once those 16 seeded teams are separated across the bracket, the rest of the tournament is made up of geographical matchups. In each round, the team with the stronger RPI gets to out the game, starting this coming Friday. There’s just one round of games (1st round) this coming weekend. The day the game is to be played on (Friday, Saturday, or Sunday just depends on what the host school asked for when they turned in their NCAA hosing paperwork about a month ago.
The second and third round games will be played the following Friday-Sunday (Nov 17-19) at the highest seeded team of that four team portion of the bracket. So, it’s very beneficial to be either a #1 or #2 seed, since those schools typically host the second and third round games. Then, the fourth round (Elite Eight) games are played over the Thanksgiving weekend, again at the site of the highest seed team (usually the number 1 seeds), which gives hose teams a big advantage to advance to the Women’s College Cup the following weekend (December 1-3) in Orlando, Florida.
The year we went to the College Cup (2014) we were a number 1 seed. The other five times we advanced to the Elite Eight we had to go on the road to Chapel Hill, NC (three times), or Tallahassee, FL, or Portland, Oregon to play the number one seed.
Most pundits are prognosticating Texas A&M as a #2 seed, with Stanford, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Duke as the expected top seeds. All four of those programs have had great years, but it could be argued that we have as strong a resume as some of them. But, we weren’t in the room to argue our point. None the less we have a tough road to the College Cup. If higher rated teams win their games, we would face former national champion Norte Dame at Ellis in the 2nd round and current defending champion USC at Ellis in the third round, before going to Duke in the forth round (Elite Eight). Wow. But, let’s stay focused on this Friday’s opponent, Lamar.
Our NCAA Championship adventure starts this Friday at Ellis Field, and I hope you’ll be there to cheer on this incredible team of Aggie women! I can’t wait!
Head Soccer Coach
Texas A&M University