No. 23 Texas A&M soccer trumped the Texas State Bobcats in a “battle of the freshmen” Saturday night at Ellis Field.
The teams’ youngest players led the charge on both ends of the field. Texas State freshman goalkeeper Beth Agee cemented the Bobcats’ defense while A&M freshmen midfielder Taylor Pounds and forward Barbara Olivieri highlighted the maroon and white’s offensive push in the 3-0 victory. The Aggies climb to 10-3-0 on the season and the Bobcats fall to 4-12-1.
A&M coach G Guerrieri said the underclassmen’s presence on the team shows the Aggies’ potential in big games moving forward.
“We start so many freshmen,” Guerrieri said. “We’re pretty excited about what the future holds.”
The young players’ dominance began in the 20th minute when Pounds scored her first-ever goal at Ellis Field with an assist from senior midfielder Taylor Ziemer and junior defender Macie Kolb.
“It was a great experience,” Pounds said. “I’ve grown up coming to games, and it’s such a cool atmosphere. For that to finally happen for me was just a really surreal experience.”
Pounds’s goal was hard-earned thanks to the impressive defense of Agee. The freshman goalkeeper recorded five saves on the night, bringing her season total to 87; Agee is now third in the nation on saves. Her defensive pressure forced the Aggies to make adjustments and begin approaching offense from a new angle, Guerrieri said.
“They made it difficult for us,” Guerrieri said. “The challenge was for us to change the point of attack from strong side to weak side.”
Olivieri took advantage of the new strategy in the 60th minute when she notched the Aggies’ second goal of the night with an assist from Pounds. Olivieri said her teammates did a great job creating an opportunity for her to capitalize on.
“I saw the open and ran across the defenders,” Olivieri said. “I kind of got around the last defender and shot it first-time.”
A&M sophomore midfielder Kendall Bates scored the final dagger against the Bobcats in the 86th minute. Olivieri said seeing players older than herself succeed helps the freshmen become better players.
“We learn a lot from them,” Olivieri said. “It’s awesome that we have young players making a big impact in the games. That’s obviously coming from the experience and seeing how the older players play.”
Guerrieri said the competitiveness of younger players was not surprising. In the fall, Olivieri was recognized as SEC Freshman of the Year while Pounds was named to the SEC All-Tournament Team.
Overall, the Aggies dominated the stat board, recording a total of 19 shots and 14 corner kicks across both halves. A&M also limited the Bobcats to five shots by possessing the ball for 73 percent of regulation time.
The maroon and white will take a week off before returning to action at Ellis Field Saturday, April 10, when they host the TCU Horned Frogs. Guerrieri described the upcoming match as a clash of champions.
“The TCU game is extraordinarily important,” Guerrieri said. “It’s the SEC champions versus the Big 12 champions. It’ll have a big bearing on where the two of us end up in NCAA play.”