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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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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Olivieri leads Aggies to Sweet 16

Photo by Abbey Santoro

Freshman midfielder Barbara Olivieri scored the only goal for the Aggies with a 22 yard penalty kick. 

Following an outstanding showing from one of the team’s youngest members, No. 7 Texas A&M soccer advanced to the third round of the NCAA tournament.
A&M freshman midfielder Barbara Olivieri committed to play for the Aggies as a freshman in high school. Four years later, she led the team to take down the undefeated South Florida Rams in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on their quest toward championship gold.
Both teams put a heavy emphasis on defense, keeping the score an even 0 going into halftime. South Florida junior goalkeeper Sydney Martinez and A&M sophomore goalkeeper Kenna Caldwell each recorded five saves on the night, further solidifying the two squads’ fortifications. A&M coach G Guerrieri said Caldwell handled this situation flawlessly.
“I’m sure she was feeling extra pressure because of the magnitude of the match,” Guerrieri said. “Kenna made terrific saves that preserved the shutout. You can see the confidence that the team has with her behind them.”
After the halftime break, which Guerrieri said the Aggies spent making adjustments on the left side, the maroon and white returned to the pitch reinvigorated. A&M freshman forward Laney Carroll said this was a big “mentality shift” as the team created more scoring opportunities.
On a push up the left side in the 49th minute, A&M freshman forward Lauren Geczik was fouled in the box. Olivieri capitalized on the resulting penalty kick, placing the ball into the top left corner of the net and putting the Aggies up 1-0.
Olivieri, still not finished, doubled A&M’s lead 16 minutes later in the 65th minute with a wide assist from Carroll, setting the new score at 2-0. Carroll said she just saw the opportunity to make something happen and decided to go for it.
“I was honestly like, ‘Shoot, I’ve got to get there,’” Carroll said. “Barb made the perfect run for it. It ended up working really great, so that was really exciting to see.”
Friday’s match marked Olivieri’s second game of the year with multiple goals scored, making her the first Aggie this season to accomplish this feat. The two goals bring the Aggies’ leading scorer to a season total of eight. Guerrieri said he expected nothing less from Olivieri.
“Barbara’s special on a team of special players,” Guerrieri said. “She’s so confident in front of the goal no matter who she’s against or what the situation is. There’s a reason why she’s the SEC Newcomer of the Year. I feel really lucky to have that kid on our side.”
With Friday’s match in the history books, the Aggies officially end the Rams’ undefeated season. A&M climbs to a 12-3 record, and South Florida falls to 10-1-2 to close out the year.
The maroon and white will play either the South Alabama Jaguars or the Oklahoma State Cowboys in the third round of the NCAA Tournament on May 5. Guerrieri said the team’s advancement is on par with their expectations for the season.
“The Sweet 16 is something that’s a bit of a standard for us,” Guerrieri said.
In fact, the May 5 match will mark the Aggies’ 16th Sweet 16 appearance. Olivieri said the team is ready for whatever challenge comes next.
“We’re getting ready to do it again and move on to the last eight teams,” Olivieri said. “It’s just a winning mentality at this point.”

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