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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

A&M upsets third-seeded South Carolina in SEC Tournament

Sophomore+M+Sydney+Becerra+%287%29+dribbles+the+ball+during+Texas+A%26amp%3BMs+game+against+Alabama+on+Sunday+Oct.+8%2C+2023+at+Ellis+Field.+%28CJ+Smith%2FThe+Battalion%29
Photo by Photo by CJ Smith

Sophomore M Sydney Becerra (7) dribbles the ball during Texas A&M’s game against Alabama on Sunday Oct. 8, 2023 at Ellis Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)

South Carolina fifth year goalkeeper Heather Hinz held onto a clean sheet for 79 minutes, but it was Texas A&M sophomore midfielder Sydney Becerra’s goal that sealed a 1-0 victory for the sixth-seeded Aggies as they upset the third-seeded Gamecocks in the quarterfinals of the SEC Tournament in Pensacola, Florida on Oct. 31.
Becerra intercepted a pass in the South Carolina half of the pitch and dribbled past several defenders before splitting a pair of Gamecocks down the middle with a shot off of the outside of her foot that landed just beyond the outstretched hands of Hinz and in the bottom corner of the net to give the Aggies a 1-0 in the 79th minute they would hold on to till the end.
“The way that she scored the goal was just awesome,” coach G Guerreri said. “You could see the skill level, the level of sophistication to the way she did it but also the grittiness because she was surrounded by so many players.”
South Carolina opened the match outshooting the Aggies 4-0 early in the first half, but the A&M offense roared back and put up five shots of their own including the only shot on target of the first period for either team before entering halftime in a scoreless draw.
A&M’s first shot on target came in the 38th minute of play after a long pass found Aggie junior forward MaKhiya McDonald who’s tap in toward the center of the net was saved by Hinz heading for ground. It would be the first of four saves for the 2023 SEC Goalkeeper of the Year during the match.
The Aggies’ other close chance in the first half came when freshman defender Adysn Armenta’s long cross sailed over the raised arms of Hinz and found a leaping Jazmine Wilkinson’s outstretched foot mere feet from the goal. But the pass was just too far outside as Wilkinson’s shot beat Hinz but landed in the outside netting.
Hinz and the Gamecock defense were able to limit the damage of an A&M attacking barrage in the second half, as the Aggies finished the day with advantages in shots 16-9, shots on goal 5-3, and corners 6-2.
A&M fifth-year goalkeeper Kenna Caldwell recorded her first save of the game after a chaotic sequence in the box after a corner kick ended with a soft attempt from sophomore forward Gracie Falla — who scored the lone goal in the Gamecocks 1-0 win over the Aggies on Oct. 19 — that Caldwell was able to secure cleanly. Caldwell would finish with three saves on the day.
Caldwell’s final save would come a mere 40 seconds after Becerra’s go-ahead goal, as a furious charge from the Gamecocks ended with South Carolina sophomore forward Shae O’Rourke sending a shot that Caldwell was able to just barely get a hand on before it deflected off of the post and away to end the Gamecocks chances of an equalizer.
“We came out with so much power and passion,” Caldwell said. “Coming into this game it was do or die. Everyone just wanted to put everything on the line to make sure we could finish it off.”
It would be Hinz forced to scramble in the final minute, as a pass from A&M junior forward Maile Hayes found McDonald with only the keeper to beat before Hinz was able to rush off of her line and stop the shot to deny the Aggies the insurance goal late in the match.
A&M will face 2-seed Georgia in the semifinals of the tournament on Thursday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m.. That matchup will air on the SEC Network.

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About the Contributor
Ian Curtis
Ian Curtis, Sports Reporter
Ian Curtis is a journalism freshman from College Station, Texas. Ian has written about football, men's basketball, women's basketball, baseball, hockey, gymnastics, volleyball and more for The Battalion. Ian's work has also appeared in The Bryan-College Station Eagle and over the airwaves on WTAW and BCSball.com. 
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