‘The stuff of dreams’

Fans recount their baseball Super Regional, Mexico-Brazil soccer match doubleheader experience
Mexico fans react after Mexico F Julián Quiñones 73rd-minute goal during the MexTour match between Mexico and Brazil at Kyle Field on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Mexico fans react after Mexico F Julián Quiñones’ 73rd-minute goal during the MexTour match between Mexico and Brazil at Kyle Field on Saturday, June 8, 2024. (Kyle Heise/The Battalion)
Photo by Kyle Heise

As soon as the Mexico-Brazil soccer match at Kyle Field was announced, Jacob Svetz and Caitlin Falke saw an opportunity. 

The match was scheduled for June 8, the same day as the Super Regional round of the NCAA baseball tournament. And with Texas A&M already in the top five of the national polls, the pair of Aggie grads each had their eyes on a doubleheader unlike any other.

“It was never a consideration of one or the other,” Svetz said. “It was ‘If we can do both, we are going to do both.’”

By the end of what can only be described as one of the longest Saturdays in A&M sports history, a few things had happened:

The Aggies came from behind to win the first game in their Super Regional series against the Oregon Ducks, despite losing star junior outfielder Braden Montgomery to a season-ending injury. 

Brazil’s Vinícius Júnior — fresh off of a Champions League title with Real Madrid just seven days before — assisted future club and country teammate Endrick’s 96th-minute, game-winning header. 

Tens of thousands of fans turned Aggieland into a party, complete with songs, chants, mariachi bands and Brazilian Carnival dancers.

And a few lucky fans got to see it all.

Beating the Ducks and beating the heat

The afternoon began with a bang — for Oregon — as the Ducks took a 2-0 lead after the top of the first inning.

That didn’t stop the Aggie crowd, though. They stayed the course through a 100-plus degree heat index. They stayed the course through Montgomery’s injury. And they stayed the course as the Aggies rallied back for a 10-6 win. 

“I’m really proud of the way that everybody pushed through and did what they could to accomplish the task of helping the team,” Ryan McColley-Perez said. “And you could tell by everybody talking about it during postgame interviews. Whether it was coach [Jim Schlossnagle] or the guys, they all said the crowd played a huge impact. And that’s what we tried to do.”

McColley-Perez is one of the de facto leaders — for lack of a better term — of the Olsen Section 203 Raggies, a mix between a student section and a supporters group for Aggie baseball. They led the first party of the day — though it wasn’t without its challenges.

Svetz, whose seats on the lawn did not keep him out of the sun, estimates he drank around five liters of water during the course of the game as he and the rest of the Olsen Field crowd bravely fought against the heat of a Texas summer.

“That was an endurance battle, for sure,” Svetz said. “Towards the end, Aggies were getting on base and fans were groaning, ‘we’re up four runs, let’s get it over with’… You definitely heard fans be like ‘Hey, I’m trying to cool off before the soccer game.’”

After the win, some fans attempting the double, like Svetz and Falke, headed home to recuperate before venturing to Kyle Field. Others headed to Northgate for a different sort of hydration.

All made sure to be back for the second party of the day — and what a party it turned out to be.

A never-ending party

Brazos Pinto was bitten by the soccer bug as a teenager when NBC first began airing Premier League matches in the United States, and the bug became a full-blown fever during the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Since then, he’s supported the sport at just about every level — but none stronger than Texas A&M’s own soccer team.

So when he saw Mexico and Brazil would be playing at Kyle Field, he knew he had to fly back home to Texas from California to take it in himself. The opportunity to see Aggie baseball play in person was the cherry on top. 

“To actually see that happen, and not only for it to be Mexico but to see Brazil come to Kyle Field in College Station, it’s the stuff of dreams,” Pinto said. “Especially with the players Brazil has. You know, Vini Jr just came off of a Champions League Final in London…When I saw it [was announced], I was shocked.”

The talent on the pitch was only half of the story — the environment in the crowd and outside the stadium was just as intense, from the food vendors and jersey sellers lining Wellborn Road and Aggie Park to the dancers parading through Aggie Park.

It struck Svetz as incomparable to an Aggie football environment — but exactly like one in so many ways.

“I was sitting there, and I’m like ‘This is so foreign, yet also very familiar,’” Svetz said. “The same way that generations bond over Aggie football, you’re seeing generations bond over their national team. It really is a beautiful thing.”

The environment hit its peak with a pair of goals in stoppage time. First, Mexico forward Guillermo Martínez pulled his side even with a goal in the 92nd minute that sent the sea of Mexico jerseys covering Kyle Field into ecstasy.

Then came Endrick’s game-winner in the 96th minute — a moment McColley-Perez had to dash back to the stands to witness after trying to beat the crowd out, while across the stadium Pinto found himself caught in the middle of a throng of crazed Brazilians.

“I was sitting in a circle of Brazil fans, and they were losing their minds,” Pinto said. “You would have thought they had just won the final of the World Cup. It was absolutely insane, and to have that piece of history at Kyle is just insanely cool.”

The festivities didn’t end with the final whistle, Pinto says. They continued down the ramps of Kyle Field, into the night, and all the way back home. 

“Even though the game was over and Mexico lost the game, the party just didn’t stop,” Pinto said. “People were still having a great time and dancing around the street as they were walking back to their cars and all throughout campus.”

Eyes on Aggieland

First, the Super Regional brought eyes across America to Olsen Field. 

Then the eyes of the world were set upon Aggieland thanks to the soccer match — and thousands of fans had their first experience with the spirit of Aggieland.

“We got dropped off by [the Association of Former Students Building], and as we were walking in there were a bunch of soccer fans taking pictures in front of the Aggie Ring statue,” Falke said. “It was just great to showcase our beautiful campus and things like that to visitors who maybe haven’t been here before.”

To Rob Thorn — another lifelong Aggie fan who completed the double — it took a place like no other to pull off hosting both events.

“I don’t know if you’d get that anywhere else in the country, or if it’s happened anywhere else in the country,” Thorn said. “…To be on a college campus, to have such a game in a college environment and then go to the professional and international level of two national teams, I don’t know if we’ve ever seen it before. I don’t know if we’ll see it again.”

The Mexico-Brazil environment may have looked alien compared to the college sports environment that Aggies are used to, but Pinto says that there are more similarities between the two than it may appear at first glance. 

“This is how we are for football here, especially in Texas,” Pinto said. “It’s how these people are for soccer, especially when it’s their national team. It’s a point of pride, and it’s a point of celebrating their identity and culture, but it doesn’t make them any different from who you and I are, or anyone else in this area.”

Falke, a lifelong Aggie and a major soccer fan herself, relished the attempt to combine her two loves for a game day she’ll never forget — but she hopes she’ll get to do it again someday.

“I hope that it’s not a once-in-a-lifetime experience because I hope this event shows that Kyle Field and Bryan-College Station can host events of this size,” Falke said. “I hope that this is not a one-off, but in case it is, I wanted to be able to say that ‘We were there, we did both and it was a great day.’”

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