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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Aggie soccer continues NCAA Tournament against No. 8 North Carolina

Soccer Preview

The No. 21 Texas A&M Aggie soccer team will look to take the next step toward another deep postseason run on Friday afternoon in Clemson, South Carolina. A&M will take on the No. 8 North Carolina Tar Heels in the NCAA Tournament’s second round.

The Aggies (16-6-1) come in after a 2-1 victory over Washington at Ellis Field in the first round. A&M scored the first two goals of the match before the Huskies responded, but A&M fended off their comeback attempt with a strong defensive showing.

Haley Pounds leads the team in scoring with 13 goals on the season. A&M’s two freshmen attackers, Emily Bates and Ally Watt, have also shined this year. Bates has netted seven goals and leads the team in assists with six. Watt has found the net six times and her speed makes it difficult for other teams to contain the Aggie offense, opening the field up.

North Carolina (15-4-1) enters the game well rested after defeating Liberty 3-0 in the first round, mostly using their bench. The Tar Heels are led by sophomore Alexa Newfield, who has scored 11 goals on the season. North Carolina has been historically great in the NCAA tournament boasting a 121-10-3 record.

A&M head coach G Guerrieri said he believes his team has a good shot and playing the Tar Heels is always an exciting challenge.

“It seems like when we get in the NCAA Tournament you can look down our bracket and you’ll find North Carolina and Texas A&M are going to clash,” Guerrieri said. “This is a little bit earlier than we’ve seen in the past but it’s still a game that we’re excited about and a game that can help us really bring our players along. It’s already been a great ride for such a young team but this will be even more special.”

The Tar Heels have never been denied a trip to the sweet-16 when playing in the tournament. The two head coaches, Guerrieri and Anson Dorrance, are the only two coaches to have qualified for NCAA Tournament every year since 1995.

Both the Aggies and Tar Heels are possession oriented teams. Most teams A&M face do not rely heavily on possession, which makes North Carolina a bit more challenging. Guerrieri said he expects the Tar Heels to keep the pedal to the metal all game long.

“North Carolina is going to have the ball in our half of the field. There’s no doubt that they will have chances,” Guerrieri said. “I think we will have chances ourselves but we’re going to have to be good with all the little things we do defensively. Competing with them and their strikers is always a challenge.”

Guerrieri said that in order to come away with the win, A&M will need to play within their frame of comfort where they can put forward their best competition.

“I think the key to playing a team like them who are so successful is picking the right battles,” Guerrieri said. “You’ve got to play within the framework that where think you can compete the best. That’ll be what we’ll be looking to do.”

Kickoff between the Aggies and Tar Heels is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Central Time on Friday afternoon and the match can be heard on Radio 1150 The Zone.

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