The 11th-ranked Texas A&M soccer team hosts the Aggie Soccer Invitational this weekend, welcoming some of the nation’s top teams including No. 2 North Carolina, No. 13 Tennessee and Indiana. The action kicks off at 6 p.m. Friday with A&M vs. UNC and at approximately 8:30 p.m. the Hoosiers and the Lady Vols face off. Soccer continues on Sunday with Tennessee vs. UNC at 11 a.m. and the Aggies vs. IU at roughly 1:30 p.m. A&M does not play UT and Indiana will not see the Tar Heels.
A&M picked up a pair of wins in its opening weekend, defeating Rhode Island on Friday, 3-2, and blanking McNeese State 9-0 on Sunday. The Aggies outshot their opponents 58-6 and won 12 corners while surrendering six. Sophomore Rachel Shipley led the A&M offense with two goals and three assists. Freshman Jennifer Kmezich and junior Cydne Currie added two goals apiece.
Shipley named Big 12 Player of the Week
Shipley was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week on Aug. 26. The Plano, Texas, native led the Aggies to two wins while tallying seven points. She scored the first A&M goal of the year in the 10th minute against Rhode Island and added an assist in the 20th minute. In Sunday’s victory over McNeese State, the midfielder contributed to three of the four first-half goals during a three-minute span. She sent two corner kicks into the box and also scored her second goal of the season.
Scouting North Carolina
The 19-time national champion and second-ranked Tar Heels return 11 starters from a 2007 team that finished the season 19-4-1 overall and 9-1-0 in the Atlantic Coast Conference. UNC made it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament before being defeated by Notre Dame. Anson Dorrance is at the helm of the program with a record of 648-32-19. North Carolina defeated Charlotte 5-1 in its season opener. Midfielder Allie Long led the Tar Heels with two goals and an assist. Also scoring goals were Yael Averbuch, Courtney Jones and Katie Klimczak.
Versus the Tar Heels
UNC leads the all-time series 9-1 against A&M. The Aggies downed North Carolina 1-0 in 2006 and in the last meeting between the two teams (Sept. 7, 2007) UNC came out victorious 2-1. Former Aggie Ashlee Pistorious scored A&M’s goal with an assist from junior Amber Gnatzig. A&M is 1-1 against UNC in College Station and set the NCAA regular season attendance record against the Tar Heels in ’06 with a crowd of 8,204.
Coach G on the UNC game:
“No matter who our opponent is we have to improve and we have to get better. That’s our emphasis this week, coming out to push each other and help our teammates get better. This is a game that people won’t expect us to win because of the history, because they have a hall of fame coaching staff and they have so many players who have national team credentials in their background. We really have the maximum respect for the way that they go about their play, the way that they prepare and the way that they compete. It will be a great challenge and a good early season evaluation to see how we stack up against a team that is generally regarded year in and year out as being one of the top teams.”
The Hoosiers come into the weekend 0-1-0 after dropping its first regular season match to Dayton, 4-1. Devon Beach scored IU’s lone goal. Do not let Indiana’s record fool you as the team returns eight starters from 2007 when it finished 13-7-3 and made it to the Sweet 16 before losing to Duke.
Sunday marks the first meeting between the Aggies and the Hoosiers.
McNeese State recap
Six different Aggies scored goals and all 24 able players saw action as the 10th-ranked Texas A&M soccer team blanked McNeese State, 9-0, in front of 2,792 fans at the Aggie Soccer Stadium. Junior Cydne Currie (2), freshman Jennifer Kmezich (2), senior Laura Grace Robinson, sophomore Rachel Shipley and freshmen Shawn-tae Greene and Bri Young each tallied a goal as A&M improved to 2-0 on the season. The Aggies dominated possession throughout the match, keeping play in its attacking third, and creating and capitalizing on multiple scoring opportunities. The Aggies outshot the Cowgirls (0-1) 33-3 and took eight corner kicks to their opponents’ three. The Aggie attack forced McNeese to make 11 saves while junior Kristin Arnold, sophomore Kelly Dyer and redshirt freshman Sarah Pierson combined for their first shutout of the season.
Rhode Island recap
The No. 10 Texas A&M soccer team opened the 2008 season with a 3-2 victory over Rhode Island in front of 6,712 fans at the Aggie Soccer Stadium. A&M earned its first victory of the year after outshooting the Rams 25-3, much due to good possession early in the match. Sophomore Rachel Shipley and freshman Beth West combined for eight shots, six of which were on frame. The duo totaled five points on the night, each scoring a goal, while Shipley chipped in an assist.
The Aggies’ roster this year consists of two seniors, six juniors, six sophomores and 13 freshmen. Twelve newcomers (Rachael Balaguer, Shawn-tae Greene, Katie Hamilton, Becca Herrera, Jennifer Kmezich, Lisel Kraus, Megan Majewski, Alyssa Mautz, Raven Tatum, Beth West, Carly Wohlers, Bri Young) join the experience of 12 returning letterwinners (Amber Gnatzig, Nicole Ketchum, Laura Grace Robinson, Rachel Shipley, Micah Stephens, Kristin Arnold, Cydne Currie, Natalie Currie, Christy End, Inge Harding, Whitney Hooper, Kelly Dyer) this season.
A&M’s home schedule in 2008 is quite favorable and should bring lots of excitement to the Aggie Soccer Stadium. There are 11 contests on the home slate as opposed to just eight on the road. The action began Aug. 22 with Rhode Island and concludes on Oct. 19 against Missouri. The Aggies play five Big 12 games at home, including four in a row from Oct. 3 to Oct. 12.
In preparing to defend its four consecutive Big 12 regular season titles, A&M will face one of America’s toughest non-conference schedules. The Aggies nine-game slate will pit them against four teams that advanced to the NCAA tournament in 2007, two of which advanced to the “Sweet Sixteen.” And while a few familiar foes grace the schedule, the Aggies will be taking to the pitch against some new opposition as five of their nine matches mark first meetings between the two schools.
A&M opponents this season
The Aggies take on six top-25 teams in 2008, the first of which is North Carolina at the Aggie Soccer Stadium on Aug. 29. A&M also faces California, Oklahoma State and Missouri at home and goes on the road to play Texas and Wake Forest.
Arnold on MAC’s Herman Trophy Watchlist
Junior goalkeeper Kristin Arnold was also named to the 2008 Missouri Athletic Club’s Hermann Trophy Watch List. She was selected to the list of 47 of the best women’s Division I intercollegiate soccer players by Division I head coaches who are current members of the NSCAA. A list of 15 semifinalists is selected by a coaches committee in November, with three finalists announced in early December.
Arnold selected as Preseason All-Big 12
Arnold was selected to the Preseason All-Big 12 Team. From Centennial, Colo., Arnold started all 24 of A&M’s matches in goal last season and earned first-team All-Big 12 accolades. Arnold posted a Big-12 best seven shutouts and ended the season ranked third in the conference in goals against average (0.86) and fifth in saves percentage (.820). One of six returning starters to this year’s squad and a captain, Arnold was also named to the NSCAA All-Central Region first-team in 2007.
Aggies picked second in Big 12
Texas A&M soccer was picked to finish second in the Big 12. The Aggies finished the 2007 season 18-4-2 and 9-1-0 in league play, winning its fourth-straight Big 12 regular season title. In addition, A&M earned its 13th consecutive trip to the NCAA Tournament. Texas earned the top spot in the conference with five of the 11 first-place votes and 94 points. A&M (93) received four first-place votes and was chosen second, while Missouri (77) came in third with two first-place votes. Oklahoma State (71) and Colorado (66) rounded out the top five. Kansas (60), Texas Tech (48), Nebraska (33), Oklahoma (29), Iowa State (18) and Baylor (14) were picked 6th through 11th, respectively.