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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 to host Clemson in home opener on Fish Camp Night

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Photo by Abbey Santoro

Sophomore Taylor Pounds led the team in most offensive statistics in 2020. 

For the third straight matchup, Texas A&M soccer will face off against a top-10 ranked team, this time in the form of the No. 9 Clemson Tigers.

After facing the Florida State Seminoles and the Texas Christian Horned Frogs in consecutive away games, the Aggies will finally return to College Station, determined to fight for their first win. In its 2020-2021 campaign, the squad remained undefeated at home, further raising the stakes for the ranked competition to come.

For head coach G Guerrieri, opening the season with two losses for the first time since 1993 is not a cause for concern. Rather, it had a specific purpose set to help the team succeed, he said.

“It’s a hard lesson to lose games, because losing sucks,” Guerrieri said. “But all of these things are correctable. That’s why we’re playing against these teams. If we wanted to roll through undefeated in our non-conference season, I would have scheduled a bunch of lollipops for us to give a licking to. That’s not what we’re about. We’re about trying to get ourselves prepared to compete and win.”

Before the home opener Saturday, Aug. 28, the team will need to use these lessons to make adjustments on both offense and defense. 

For sophomore midfielder Taylor Pounds, this means fine-tuning aspects of gameplay to better suit the maroon and white’s specific strengths.

“We just need to work on building our confidence up again,” Pounds said. “We had to conform to how FSU and TCU were playing, so this game will be exciting to play in our formations. We’ve been really working on playing out of the back and finding open gaps. A lot of our practice has been working through the midfield … to distribute to other parts of the field.”

Junior midfielder and defender Kendall Bates said this self-criticism creates potential for a bombastic showing against the Tigers come Saturday night.

“We are still very confident in how good we are going to be,” Bates said. “With a really young team, we’ve seen flashes of how good we can be. As we keep bringing that out more and we get more confidence, we’re [getting] really excited.”

When it comes to A&M soccer, there is no better time to build confidence than the team’s annual Fish Camp Game. Consistently one of the most attended collegiate soccer games in the nation, the Aggies are amid a potential “perfect storm” set to electrify the team.

In addition to the 47 Fish Camps and 100-plus youth soccer teams planning to attend the game, Guerrieri said the home opener holds even more significance — kicking off A&M history. The Aggies’ upcoming matchup marks the first athletic event as part of the 12th Man’s 100-year anniversary celebration.

“That will be a nice shot in the arm of adrenaline for Saturday night,” Guerrieri said. “We’re all really pumped about Saturday, and Clemson is, too. They think they know what the environment is going to be like.”

As of presstime, A&M stands at 0-2-0 on the season, while Clemson remains undefeated at 2-0-0. The two teams have played twice before, with the Aggies winning 4-1 in 1995 and the Tigers coming out on top with a 4-1 margin in 2004. This means the eventual victor of their third meeting will hold a new edge over the other for years to come.

First kick is set for 7 p.m. Saturday at Ellis Field in College Station, and ticketing information can be found at 12thManFoundation.net. Any freshman or Fish Camp counselor who wears the shirt they received at camp will automatically gain free admission, further boosting the team’s commitment to the atmosphere of its home games.

Ready to finally play in the Brazos Valley again, Bates said she is thrilled to compete for her team’s first win of the season.

“There’s nothing like playing in front of our crowd and on this field,” Bates said. “We’re going to build off of that and beat the hell out of Clemson.”

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