Junior forward utilizes finesse roots under Texas A&M soccer system
Published: Friday, September 6, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 6, 2013 00:09
The states of California and Texas stand on opposite sides of almost every spectrum, ranging from politics to economics and even athletics.
Specialists have emerged in both states, and for junior Allie Bailey, her expertise on the Californian soccer pitch has given her a West Coast edge while competing for Texas A&M over the past three years.
The A&M women’s soccer program has competed in the Big 12 and Southeastern Conferences, or what head coach G Guerrieri referred to as “power leagues,” for the entirety of its existence.
Meanwhile, the West Coast has offered a more finesse approach for its college soccer teams. Transplanting Bailey’s Californian roots into the Texas soil provided the A&M soccer team with a true finesse athlete, stimulating a system Guerrieri has been promoting since he helped establish the program in 1993.
“I think a lot of people would consider us a finesse team in what has always been a power conference, whether it was the Big 12 or now in the SEC,” Guerrieri said. “In a conference of great athletes, we want to compete athletically but we also want to have an air of sophistication. [Bailey] comes from a finesse environment and that’s the way she’s been raised as a player.”
Hailing from San Diego, Bailey grew up learning her artistic style of play while utilizing it as a member of both her high school and club soccer teams. She served as the captain of the city’s club franchise, San Diego Surf, for seven years, which provided her with opportunities to visit college programs around the country in the process.
During once such circumstance — a tournament hosted by Texas A&M — Bailey found herself captivated by the campus, people and respect for traditions.
“I played a tournament here with my club team my junior year and that’s when I first started looking at Texas A&M,” Bailey said. “I was in contact with all the coaches after that tournament and then I came back on another unofficial visit, and that’s when I decided to commit. I just don’t understand why if anyone had the opportunity to come here, why they wouldn’t come here.”
Since joining the A&M soccer program, Bailey has earned 33 starts, played in 53 matches, and tallied seven assists and 11 goals, including two game-winners.
Through Guerrieri’s system, which emphasizes strategy and cunning over brute power, the junior forward has flourished. Bailey said her skillfulness, combined with A&M’s increasing adherence to the West Coast style, will allow for the Aggies to outmaneuver many SEC teams down the stretch.
“I think coming from Southern California, that’s where I started to play [with finesse] and see the game as more than just myself when I get the ball,” Bailey said. “I think that’s how soccer around the world is being played, with quick passing and creative play, and I think our team is getting a lot better with those qualities. It will definitely be to our advantage playing in the SEC, because most SEC teams have big, strong girls, so if we can play around them we’ll be very successful.”
With only two seniors on the team, Guerrieri said Bailey has stepped into a small leadership role, especially among the younger players. She isn’t highly vocal, and chooses instead to let her actions on the pitch speak for her.
“She’s a quiet leader,” Guerrieri said. “She’s a good teammate first and foremost, and the girls feel like they can trust her. She shows through her actions on the field in the way that she feeds other people, and combines with other players.”
According to junior forward and roommate Kelley Monogue, Bailey’s dedication to the sport, along with her ability to adjust and find open teammates, is unique not only within the SEC, but also around the country.
“She’s definitely a hard worker and she always wants to stay after,” Monogue said. “She’s very skillful and very tricky. When it comes to soccer, she’s very smart. She can play through balls with someone she knows is going to be there even when they aren’t there yet. She definitely can adjust for things she sees on the field, and she knows where to go and where the open space is.”
Looking to the future, Guerrieri hopes Bailey’s finesse capabilities provide A&M with an advantage against the high-powered offenses of the SEC.
The head coach said Bailey’s talent at scanning the field and reading defensive schemes allow her a distribution skill unlike many star players in college soccer, a key factor in the Aggies success down road this season.
“She’s not just a get-it-and-go, one-versus-one type of kid — although she can do that — so she’s really good at combining and making it really tough on the opponent,” Guerrieri said. “She’s a kid that always plays with her head up, and that’s a big thing.”