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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

Texas A&M utility Gavin Grahovac (9) throws the ball during A&Ms game against Georgia on Friday, April 26, 2024, at Olsen Field. (CJ Smith/The Battalion)
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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Aggies stay undefeated with win versus Sam Houston

Photo by Robert O’Brien

Junior midfielder Kate Colvin sends the ball to the back of the net for the Aggies’ fifth goal of the night.

The sun beat down on Ellis Field on the afternoon of Thursday, Aug. 25 as the Texas A&M soccer team took on Sam Houston State. The bright light and heat struck the faces of the Aggies as Sam Houston held the advantage of the sun to their backs to start the match.
That didn’t slow the Aggies down, though. The game opened with immediate pressure on the Bearkats’ defense, persistence that led to a 12th-minute goal by Mia Pante. The sophomore defender lit up the scoreboard after she took the ball down the right side of the pitch, made a move on her defender and put the ball cross-goal into the bottom-left corner of the net where junior goalkeeper Savannah Hall was unprepared to save it.
“[Competing with Canada’s U-20 team] was the best prep I could have ever had to come into a college season,” Pante said. “I was away playing against top opposition like France, Nigeria, South Korea, Japan, some of the top youth teams in the world. So, it was a great way to come into a college season, and hopefully I can bring something back to Texas A&M.”
Pante’s goal was a part of A&M’s early aggression on the field both offensively and defensively. It marked a theme of the match that ended with a 6-0 victory for the Aggies: never let the Bearkats sleep.
A&M kept Hall busy with belligerent attacks, putting together 17 shot attempts, nine on goal, in the first half and 15 shot attempts, seven on goal, in the second half. The Aggies averaged 16.5 attempts and 9.5 shots on goal per game in the team’s first two games against Clemson and McNeese.
The Aggies had 32 shot attempts during the game, nearly equal to their 33 combined attempts in the previous two games.
“Our aggressiveness [comes] from when we don’t have the ball,” A&M coach G Guerrieri said. “If you watch the way that we counter press and when we lose it we immediately try to get it back, that was a big part of everything. You saw oftentimes four of our players swarming around one of [Sam Houston’s] players to get the ball back. If we can get the ball back, that’s when we’re able to create those opportunities.”
The Aggies scored four goals in the first half, the first by Pante. A&M’s second came off an own goal by Sam Houston in the 24th minute. The third came when sophomore forward Maile Hayes crossed the ball to senior forward/midfielder Jai Smith who took a shot on goal that was saved by Hall. Smith gathered the rebound with composure and buried the ball in the back of the net. Lastly, a goal came with just 15 seconds remaining in the first half when — after the ball bounced around like it was in a pinball machine, going from player to player — Smith and junior midfielder Taylor Pounds combined to assist graduate defender Karlina Sample for a goal.
Smith, who scored A&M’s third goal of the day, got to celebrate her first collegiate goal after four seasons that spanned both Seton Hall and A&M.
“Long overdue,” Smith said. “This spring I actually played really well, and so I was able to put some goals in the back of the net. I just wanted to show it again during the season when it matters. I’m really excited, and hopefully it keeps happening throughout the rest of the season.”
On the other end, the Aggies’ senior goalkeeper Kenna Caldwell had a quiet first half. She didn’t garner a single save as the stout A&M defense left Sam Houston sans a single shot attempt. Caldwell, who was subbed out after the first half, finished with more shot attempts, two, than the Bearkats had against her.
Despite the score, Sam Houston’s keeper, Hall, had numerous impressive saves for the Bearkats, racking up 10 saves during the game before being subbed out in the 75th minute.
When a penalty kick was issued out in the 55th minute to the Aggies, Hall saved the attempt, but the referees ruled she stepped off her line prematurely and called for a rekick. Hall once again saved the penalty kick, but to her misfortune, junior midfielder Kate Colvin followed up on her own miss and scored the Aggies’ fifth goal of the game.
A sixth and final goal came with about six minutes left in the game when junior midfielder Natalie Yoo assisted junior defender Sawyer Dumond to put the Aggies up 6-0. The game’s final minutes trickled down, and the Aggies improved to an undefeated 2-0-1.
A&M will face off with another team of Aggies, taking on New Mexico State on Saturday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m. at Ellis Field.
“The game will be another step up in competition,” Guerrieri said. “I think that New Mexico State will do a good job in possessing the ball, and we’ll see how our defense works against that.”

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