The Texas A&M soccer team did Friday night what all good teams must do if they expect to claim any kind of title.
The Aggies gained a result when not at their best.
Furthermore, they took all three points from a conference foe who was at its best.
The Aggies scored in the 70th minute for a 1-0 victory over Vanderbilt at Ellis Field.
“We stayed in the game and found a way to win,” A&M coach G Guerrieri said. “That was a gritty, ugly performance with the right result.”
Vanderbilt (4-4 overall and 1-1 in the Southeastern Conference) had a slight edge in possession and opportunities until the No. 5 Aggies (8-1, 2-0) made an adjustment in formation, going from a 4-3-3 to a 4-4-2.
With Haley Pounds and Ally Watt up front and the Commodores playing three in the back the Aggies found the space they needed to operate. A good half of their better opportunities occurred after the switch with Watt involved in all.
Pounds, who has been in form all season, scored her seventh goal. Stephanie Malherbe was credited with the assist, but it was Watt's run into the 6-yard box that caught the Vandy goalkeeper's eye and allowed the ball Pounds sent across the face of the goal from right of the penalty to cut inside the far post.
Vandy put five balls on frame compared to the Aggies' two in the first half and had two other ideal chances but were unable to make A&M keeper Taylor Saucier work.
The Commodores had the wind in the opening 45 and proved they could be a threat against the wind in the opening minutes of the second half when Kacy Scarpa hit the elbow of the frame.
A&M's defense tightened from that point on, but Vandy made A&M earn everything it got in the tightly marked match.
Stars of the match:
1: Goalkeeper Taylor Saucier – The redshirt sophomore usually has little to do at home matches, but she came up big when called upon, which was quite often, especially in the first half against the Commodores.
2: Defender McKayla Paulson – The sophomore is another one whose work can go unnoticed in a majority of A&M's home games because of how much possession the Aggies have. Paulson was solid throughout against an attack that had three dangerous attackers in playmaker Erin Myers and forwards Simone Charley and Sasha Gray.
3: Forward Ally Watt – The freshman proved to be dangerous in her 60 minutes, especially in the second half, when she whisked past defenders down the flank and also looked dangerous in the penalty box, as she proved on the lone goal by Haley Pounds.