LAS CRUCES, New Mexico (KVIA) -- A total of 90 minutes wasn’t enough for the Aggies or the Bearkats to find the back of the net as the two sides tied 0-0 in a game that meant quite a bit for both teams.
Entering the day, an NM State victory would have given the Aggies the outright Conference USA title in just their first year in the league. Meanwhile, the Bearkats were looking to keep their hopes at securing a spot in the CUSA Tournament alive as they began the day as the sixth team in the six-team field.
After a first half in which it only got off two shots, the Aggie attack mustered 12 shots in the second half, however, none would find their way beyond the Bearkat goalie. Meanwhile, the Aggies held Sam Houston to just six shots across the 90 minutes of action.
The two strong defenses were on full display in the first half as Gianna Valenti’s shot in the 11th minute was the only shot by either squad during the first 20 minutes of play.
Similar to the Aggies, Sam Houston’s offense struggled to get anything going as Valerie Guha only watched two shots fly in her direction – neither of which landed on target.
Following some second-half lineup changes and, perhaps, philosophy changes, both teams came out goal-seeking. In just the first 10 minutes, Sam Houston and NM State each took two shots, including two from the Bearkats that required the attention of Guha.
Later in the half, the Aggies would record their first shot on goal as Shila Rasoul directed a ball to the bottom right corner of the goal where the Bearkat goalie deflected the ball, but offered a corner kick opportunity for the Aggies as the ball trickled over the end line after the save. While the Aggies were unable to convert, this began a stretch of eight minutes in which the Aggies attempted five shots, including three on goal.
Around the 83-minute mark, it became apparent that neither side would be content to play conservatively and just accept a tie as the Aggies and Bearkats combined to fire six shots during the final seven minutes of the match. The first of these shots came from Mya Hammack who sent a rocket into the bottom left corner from about 35 yards out and was a Bearkat goalie hand away from finding the difference maker.
The Aggies nearly came away with a goal in the final 30 seconds of action when a corner kick played in by Brooke Schultz rattled around the box, however, no Aggies were able to get a clean look at the goal and the buzzer sounded with both teams knotted at zero.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
With the result, Sunday marks the first time that the Aggies have been shutout since Sept. 14 when USC held NM State scoreless. This also marks the second 0-0 tie of the season as they produced an identical result against Incarnate Word on Aug. 31.
The tie in the final home game of the season leaves the Aggies with a 4-2-3 home record in 2023, including finishing 2-0-2 in CUSA matches at the NM State Soccer Athletic Complex.
Although, the Aggies did not enter with hopes of a tie, the tie does benefit the Aggies in terms of seeding for the upcoming CUSA Tournament Ruston, La. The tie gives the Aggies 17 total points to remain atop the CUSA table and guarantee the Aggies one of the top two seeds in the tournament – meaning they are guaranteed to receive a first-round bye.
The Aggies have just one regular season game remaining on the schedule as they will now make a trip to Bowling Green, Ky., where they will meet up with Western Kentucky on Friday, Oct. 27. WKU currently sits just three points shy of the Aggies in the CUSA standings meaning that Friday’s contest will effectively serve as the regular season championship game. NM State can secure the title with either a win or a tie while WKU is in need of a win to claim the crown.