Soccer preview

As the Aggies head into the third round of the NCAA Tournament during finals week, junior defender Karlina Sample discusses the importance of being proactive. 

No. 11 Texas A&M soccer will renew its longtime rivalry against the No. 19 Oklahoma State Cowgirls in the third round of the NCAA Tournament Wednesday, May 5.

Both teams advanced to the third round by securing a first-round bye, then shutting out their opponents in the second. A&M most recently trumped the South Florida Rams 2-0, boosting its record to 12-3, and the Cowgirls defeated the South Alabama Jaguars 7-0 to improve to 13-3-1 on the season.

Following the Cowgirls’ impressive victory, A&M coach G Guerrieri said the maroon and white is facing its most difficult opponent yet.

“[The Cowgirls] absolutely crushed [South Alabama],” Guerrieri said. “A lot of us thought it was going to be a close game. They looked really, really strong.”

Oklahoma State and A&M, former foes from the Aggies’ time in the Big 12 Conference, each claimed their respective conference’s regular season championship in the fall. Guerrieri said this sets up Wednesday’s game to be a fiery renewal of an intense history.

“They’re always a hard team to play against,” Guerrieri said. “This is a really good rivalry that we have with them. We respect them and how hard they work.”

The Sweet 16 matchup will mark the 22nd time the two teams have faced off. Overall, the Aggies hold a 16-1-4 edge on the series, with their last meeting having ended in a 2-2 draw in 2017. Oklahoma State has not defeated A&M since 2009. Regardless, Guerrieri said this is not indicative of the challenge the Cowgirls present.

“The games have always been tough,” Guerrieri said. “Even though we have a pretty wide lead in the number of wins over them, it’s still an issue. I expect nothing less on Wednesday. It will be a very close game.”

A&M junior defender Karlina Sample said this rivalry actually has a personal twist to it. Many of A&M’s players grew up competing with or against many of the women on the Cowgirls’ roster, she said.

“I know a couple of them from clubs and other sports,” Sample said. “It’s cool playing against teams where you know people because it makes it a little more personal. You respect them as an athlete and as a competitor.”

The third round matchup falls directly in the middle of A&M’s final exams week. Sample said this has forced the maroon and white to prepare for two very different challenges, on and off the field, at the same time.

“It requires a lot of discipline and responsibility to make sure you’re on top of all of your work,” Sample said. “Everyone has been very proactive with making sure that we’re focused on the tournament as well as on finishing our academics for the semester.”

Final examinations aside, Sample said the Aggies are still ready to hit the turf and compete. The match will take place Wednesday, May 5, at 11 a.m., and is being held in Cary, N.C. Guerrieri said he is confident in how his players will compete once kickoff time arrives.

“They’re here to win, and they’ve been winning,” Guerrieri said. “They can go into any situation at any site and find a way to win.”

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