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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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A&M soccer sets eyes on spring-opening victory at Rice

Photo by Abbey Santoro

Junior defender Macie Kolb tries to win the ball back from UNT’s senior forward Berklee Peters during a Feb. 20 exhibition game.

No. 12 Texas A&M soccer is looking to kick off its spring regular season with a win following its third SEC regular season title in fall 2020.
The Aggies will travel to Houston on Monday to play the Rice Owls at 7 p.m. at Holloway Field. The match was added to the Aggies’ program earlier this week following scheduling issues with the Abilene Christian Wildcats.
The game against Rice comes after a difficult two months of scheduling difficulties due to the Texas freeze, COVID-19 quarantines and differing plans among conferences. The players have had to adapt to an unusual two-semester season, A&M sophomore midfielder Kendall Bates said.
“We take our information day by day,” Bates said. “It’s a different mindset going into it. It’s now an away game and we have to travel, but for the most part, our mindset is still the same: to go out there and play like we can play.”
Monday’s match will mark the Aggies’ first regular season game since their 3-1 loss to Vanderbilt in November 2020 during the SEC Tournament semifinals. The only other time the maroon and white have touched the turf this semester was a 1-0 exhibition victory over UNT on Feb. 20. The Owls began their spring season in February and own a 4-2 record.
“We learned a lot from losing in the Vanderbilt game,” A&M junior defender Macie Kolb said. “Taking what we learned in the Vandy game will help us beat Rice.”
The roster is a key difference between the Aggies’ November loss to Vanderbilt and their upcoming spring opener against the Owls. Monday is A&M’s first regular season game without fall standouts Addie McCain and Jimena Lopez, who were both selected in the NWSL Draft in January.
“We bring players here to graduate,” A&M coach G Guerrieri said. “That’s what they did. We bring players here to go on and play professionally, and that’s what they’re doing. Obviously I’m very proud of them and what they’ve done, but we’ve got a roster full of players that are here for the same reasons.”
McCain and Lopez represented important components in the Aggies’ playing style throughout the fall season. McCain as SEC Midfielder of the Year and Lopez as SEC Co-Defender of the Year in 2020 leave big shoes to fill this spring. It also gives younger players the opportunity to become leaders and begin filling in these gaps, Bates said.
“Not only did we lose two of our best soccer players, but two of our captains,” Bates said. “It’s given the opportunity for a lot of different players to step up, both on and off the field.”
This will be especially important against the Owls, a team known to be a tough obstacle for the Aggies, Kolb said.
“We’ve played Rice in the past and they always prove to be a difficult team to beat, but they’re definitely beatable,” Kolb said. “We’re coming in with the mindset that we want to win.”
The two teams have not faced each other since 2016 when the Aggies came out on top 4-1. A&M’s hope is to continue the winning streak against Rice by improving on what they’ve been working on in practice as a team, Bates said.
“Just focus on us,” Bates said. “Take it game by game. It will all work out.”
More than anything, the Aggies want to capitalize on the excitement of ending the four-month drought with no official competition, Guerrieri said.
“The big thing for us is that we get a chance to put the uniform on and go out and compete,” Guerrieri said.

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