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Photo by Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Texas A&M Soccer

After dominant first half, Aggies fend off late surge to defeat Florida, 2-1

October 11, 2020
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The No. 11 Texas A&M Aggies (2-1) defeated the No. 15 Florida Gators (1-1-1), 2-1, on Sunday at Ellis Field.

Following a loss on the road to top 10 Arkansas, the Aggies wanted to flip the script in their home opener. Facing their second straight top 15 opponent, the Aggies bounced back and took control early.

The first half was all Texas A&M as G Guerrieri’s squad moved the ball well and stayed on Florida’s defensive half of the field.

With plenty of chances early on, A&M could not cash in in the early minutes. In the 9th minute, freshman Barbara Oliveri had a breakaway, but a brilliant diving save by Gator goalkeeper Susi Espinoza denied the Aggies’ chance.

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Barbara Olivieri (13) had quite the day with plenty of scoring chances, including a beautiful goal scored directly from a corner kick.

In the 22nd minute, Olivieri found the back of the net off of a corner kick. She struck a beautiful ball that bent off Florida goalkeeper Susi Espinoza’s hands and into the net for a 1-0 A&M.

The Aggies’ high press forced turnovers as Florida struggled to shift the ball and find openings on the offensive end.

A&M’s high press rewarded the Agis with a penalty kick in the 28th minute as Lauren Geczik drawing a foul in the box.

Senior Jimena Lopez struck a ball bottom left corner to grant A&M a 2-0 lead.

“People asked me all week who I would select to take a penalty kick, and without hesitation, I told them Lopez,” said Guerrieri. “The miss at Arkansas was probably her only miss in her life.”

In the 45th minute, Gator senior Alivia Gonzalez was able to finally register a shot on goal, but Aggie goalkeeper Shantel Hutton made a routine save to preserve a 2-0 lead at the half.

Florida head coach Becky Burleigh decided to go with a formation change in the second half, and the Gators were able to maintain decent possession time and swing the ball from side to side.

Meanwhile, missed chances continued to be the story for the Aggies offense. Within the first 15 minutes of the second half, both Barbara Oliveri and Kate Colvin hit the crossbar on shots that would’ve stretched A&M’s lead.

When asked about miss chances, Guerrieri said: “We’re going to get better. Both Oliveri and Colvin could have had hat tricks today.”

With A&M failing to get any insurance, Florida took advantage in the 58th minute. Sloppy passing on defense resulted in a turnover and a proximity goal for Gator midfielder Syd Kennedy, making the score 2-1. 

Jamie Maury, TexAgs
Shantel Hutton was able to make a couple of key saves to preserve the Texas A&M victory.

Florida remained confident despite being dominated in every statistical category. Burleigh’s bunch continued to display great passing and good enough defense to keep the Aggies from building on their lead.

Florida’s best chance to tie the game came in the 86th minute. Off a turnover, the Gators countered and had numbers in their favor. With a shot from the right side off the foot of freshman Nicole Vernis, Hutton made the save of the day with a diving stop to prevent the tying marker. 

Time would eventually run out for the Gators as the Aggies prevailed, 2-1. Even though the score was close, Texas A&M was superior all day, outshooting Florida 18-5.

With multiple A&M newcomers playing and three starting, Guerrieri had nothing but uplifting words.

“Freshman is just something to put next to their name on a roster sheet,” said Guerrieri. “We just think of them as quality players, and they have done a great job.”

Texas A&M (2-1) will have little recovery time as Mississippi State comes to Ellis field Friday, October 16. Kickoff is scheduled 6:00 p.m.

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After dominant first half, Aggies fend off late surge to defeat Florida, 2-1

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