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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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A&M soccer to face second SEC opponent at home

Photo by Photo by Ishika Samant

Closing into halftime, junior Ali Russell takes a shot on Pepperdine’s goal.

Texas A&M football isn’t the only team facing off against Arkansas on the week of Sept. 20.
On Thursday, Sept. 23, A&M soccer will kick-off its home slate for SEC play against the Razorbacks. The Aggies are coming off a 1-0 loss over then-No. 9 Pepperdine in A&M’s annual Turn It Gold soccer match. Arkansas and A&M are stark opposites of each other when it comes to team rosters, with the Razorbacks boasting its prowess with upperclassmen.
A&M head coach G Guerrieri said the age gap on the field is a point of issue the coaches will be watching for.
“We open up our home portion of SEC play against Arkansas,” Guerrieri said. “Arkansas and A&M are the two preseason favorites to win the league. We were co-champions last year and most of Arkansas’ team is back, they have quite a few super seniors on their team. You contrast that with our side that is mostly freshmen and sophomores and it’s one point of concern for us.”
Arkansas junior Anna Podojil, 2020 SEC Forward of the Year, poses the biggest threat to the maroon and white. Podojil has started in all 47 games she has played and has recorded a current career total of 26 goals.
Five of these goals took place in the nine games the Razorbacks have already played in 2021.
While Podojil remains a threat, she will have to get through A&M’s junior defender Katie Smith and senior defender Karlina Sample, Guerrieri said.
“The good news for us is that we have the two best center backs in the SEC in Katie Smith and Karlina Sample. We have very accomplished wide players in the back, and we’ve got a goalkeeper who is incredible with her feet in [junior] Kenna Caldwell. That’s one of the strengths we have, the ability to play against great attacking teams like this.”
Offensively, the maroon and white have had to adjust due to an indefinite injury from 2020 SEC Freshman of the Year, forward Barbara Olivieri. Sophomore forward Laney Carroll, who Guerrieri said is one of the fastest among the conference, is also currently out due to injury.
These two forwards have been filled in by freshman Natalie Abel and sophomore Lauren Geczik, with Abel playing for 50 minutes against the Waves and Geczik playing the entire contest.
In the Razorbacks’ last match on the pitch against the University of Tennessee at Martin, Arkansas won 4-0. Senior goalkeeper Hannah Warner will be a bit rusty going against the maroon and white, only having to post one save against the Skyhawks.
Sample said the previous loss against Pepperdine served as a wake up call for the maroon and white.
“It was frustrating that we resulted in a loss,” Sample said. “We know the success is coming; at this point it’s just on us to prepare the right way.”
A&M boasts a 5-3-1 season record, while the Razorbacks have a 6-2 record. Both teams have defeated the only SEC opponent they have played, with the Aggies defeating Kentucky 3-0 on Sept. 17 and Arkansas beating then-No. 13 Tennessee, 3-1.
Kick-off is slated for 6 p.m. sharp on Thursday, and the maroon and white are looking to beat the previous match’s attendance of 2,002, Guerrieri said.
“We’re looking forward to the game, even though it’s a real contrast in styles, I think that we are built to do very well against them,” Guerrieri said.

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