ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — Top-seeded Texas A&M earned its second straight SEC Tournament crown with a 1-0 victory over third-seeded Kentucky in the championship game on Sunday. The Aggies are the first team to win both the SEC regular season and tournament championships in back-to-back seasons since Florida did it from 1996-2001.
Texas A&M senior and SEC Offensive Player of the Year Shea Groom scored the lone goal off of a corner kick by Haley Pounds in the 30th minute. The Aggies had five total corner kicks in the game.
Kentucky had several opportunities to answer, including a close attempt in the 36th minute by Zoe Swift that was kicked out by Texas A&M goalkeeper Jordan Day. Despite an 8-3 shot advantage in the second half (UK outshot the Aggies 13-10 overall), the Wildcats could not get on the board. Both goalkeepers had strong games with Day recording six saves and Kentucky's Taylor Braun earning five.
Kelli Hubly had three shots on goal for UK while Swift had two.
The Aggies (18-2-2) did not concede a goal during the entire 2014 tournament, defeating Georgia 3-0 in the quarterfinals and South Carolina 1-0 in the semifinals. Texas A&M is now 7-1 all-time in the SEC Tournament.
"If you look across the league, Kentucky has done a great job all season long," Texas A&M Coach G Guerrieri said. "They try to play. The ball is on the ground. Today, soccer won because you had a team in Kentucky that wanted to build and wanted to make the game enjoyable to watch and enjoyable to play.
"We believe in the exact same thing. We're not the only two in this league. There are so many great programs and I'm hoping that as many SEC teams as possible can get into the NCAA Tournament."
This was Kentucky's first appearance in the championship game since 2006 and only the third in program history. The loss was Kentucky's first since another to the Aggies on Oct. 5, in College Station. Kentucky drops to 15-6.
Arin Gilliland, Stuart Pope and Alex Carter were named to the SEC All-Tournament Team for UK.
"I thought it was a great game and a great representation of SEC soccer," Kentucky Coach Jon Lipsitz said. "We felt, all along, that we were going to be in the championship game and wanted to play A&M. They clearly deserved the title and huge congrats to them. They are a fantastic team, it was a great game, and we'll learn from it and be better as we start the NCAAs."
With the win, Texas A&M automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships. The entire 64-team field will be announced at 4:30 p.m. Monday.
Kentucky is at No. 18 in the national computer rankings and will be among the contenders for a top-16 national seed.