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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 looks to break South Florida’s undefeated streak

The+Aggies+faced+off+against+the+Missouri+Tigers+in+Columbia%2C+MO.+on+Thursday+night.
Photo by Abbey Santoro

The Aggies faced off against the Missouri Tigers in Columbia, MO. on Thursday night.

No. 11 Texas A&M soccer will take on the undefeated No. 15 South Florida Rams in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The second round match will take place Friday, April 30, with kickoff set for 2 p.m. The game, hosted at Bryan Park in Greensboro, N.C., will mark the first time the two teams have faced each other.
The Rams, who shut out the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils 3-0 in the first round, currently hold a 10-0-2 record on the season. A&M coach G Guerrieri said this has set up South Florida to be a challenging opponent.
“They do what they do very well,” Guerrieri said. “It’s a really high order for us to meet already in the second round. They play with a great amount of poise.”
Regardless of the challenge, Guerrieri said the team’s readiness has only grown while preparing for the match.
“Our confidence level is a 10 out of 10,” Guerrieri said. “The team feels good. Coming off of a win over No. 3 TCU was a good exclamation point for the regular season, and it puts us into a highly rated position with a lot of confidence.”
The Aggies’ April 10 victory over TCU marked the maroon and white’s highest-ranked victory in a decade. This boosted the team to an 11-3-0 record and secured the team’s entry into the tournament. Since then, the team has focused its practices on “tournament situations,” Guerrieri said.
A&M sophomore midfielder Kendall Bates said the team’s specialized training over the last few weeks have allowed the team to develop a mindset to prepare them for tournament success.
“Practices have had two emphasized points: intensity and quality,” Bates said. “If you can get both of those at a really high level — which we’ve been able to do — we’re really excited and think we have a good shot.”
This year’s tournament is being played entirely in North Carolina instead of across the country at different host sites. Guerrieri said this will force his players to make some adjustments in their mindset and playing style.
“We’re used to playing in such a loud and boisterous environment at Ellis Field,” Guerrieri said. “We know that we’re going to have to bring our energy and our excitement to the game.”
The team traveled to North Carolina on Wednesday, April 28, and began its “isolation bubble” as part of the NCAA’s COVID-19 protocols. This has included multiple rounds of testing and safety precautions that have almost become “routine,” Guerrieri said.
Even with the quarantine guidelines, Bates said the team is more than ready to bring energy and excitement throughout the entire tournament. However, he said they are focusing on taking the challenge one step at a time instead.
“With tournaments like this, you have to take it game by game,” Bates said. “Right now, the only thing on our minds is South Florida.”
The Aggies earned a first round bye in the tournament thanks to their No. 7 seeding. Bates said the team is ready to get back onto the pitch and continue playing for what their season is hopefully leading to.
Bates said the Rams will not be a team that stops the Aggies from reaching their goal.
“We’re doing this for a national championship,” Bates said.

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