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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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A&M pulls off comeback in must-win matchup against Tennessee

Senior+F+Jazmine+Wilkinson+%2821%29+kicks+a+goal+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+Alabama+on+Sunday%2C+Oct.+8%2C+2023.+The+Aggies+upset+Alabama+3-1.+%28Chris+Swann%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by Chris Swann

Senior F Jazmine Wilkinson (21) kicks a goal during Texas A&M’s game against Alabama on Sunday, Oct. 8, 2023. The Aggies upset Alabama 3-1. (Chris Swann/The Battalion)

In the penultimate game of the regular season, Texas A&M and Tennessee soccer put on a show in Rocky Top.
The Aggies defeated the Volunteers 4-3 behind a hat trick from senior forward Jazmine Wilkinson, picking up an important 3 points in the SEC and an important win for their NCAA Tournament hopes.
A&M’s victory was not made easy by the Orange and White. The Volunteers made that evident from the jump.
A little over four minutes into the game, the home side got the scoring started. Tennessee junior midfielder Jordan Fusco received a pass from sophomore midfielder Macaira Midgley outside the box before dribbling in and beating a diving senior goalkeeper Kenna Caldwell to her left.
Fusco’s fourth goal of the season had the Volunteers on top 1-0 and rolling early.
Despite this, the Aggies answered back quickly with a goal in the ninth minute. Just inside of the box on the right side, the Volunteers’ redshirt freshman goalie Abby Reisz attempted to corral a loose ball, turning her back and blocking Wilkinson from the ball.
However, Wilkinson managed to steal the ball from Reisz and get the ball outside the box before scoring the equalizing goal.
A&M took the lead in the 14th minute, scoring another highlight goal. Sophomore midfielder Sydney Becerra collected a pass from junior midfielder Mia Pante just outside the top of the box and beat a Tennessee defender before launching a shot that deflected under the crossbar and into the goal.
At the end of the half, the Aggies led 2-1 and were 45 minutes away from closing out an important late season road victory. Unfortunately for the Maroon and White, Fusco gave her team a second-half lift.
Only seven seconds into the second half, redshirt senior defender Maria Nelson crossed a ball into the box and Fusco deflected it with her left foot,beating Caldwell and tying the game at two.
In the 48th minute, Fusco completed her hat trick and put her team ahead 3-2, scoring on a low shot in the box off an assist from redshirt sophomore midfielder Jenna Stayart.
Tennessee led 3-2 for 30 minutes. However, Wilkinson equalized the match in the 77th minute after fighting for a bouncing ball with three defenders around her, scoring low left.
Only 48 seconds later, Wilkinson put her team ahead, finishing off her hat trick by heading in a cross from graduate forward Sammy Smith. Wilkinson’s third goal would be enough for the Aggies to finish the game on top and keep their hopes of an NCAA Tournament bid alive.
The Maroon and White came into the game at 47th in the RPI and hovering around the bubble of the tournament. A&M also avoided the possibility of falling below a .500 winning percentage.
With the loss, the Volunteers now have one last game to decide if they make it to the SEC Tournament. Sitting with 9 points in the SEC standings, Tennessee sits just barely on the edge of the final spot. It will face Vanderbilt in the final regular season game on Thursday, Oct. 26.
For the Aggies, their hopes of an SEC West crown, though not affected by the result on Sunday, will be on the line on Thursday as they travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to face LSU.

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