GAINESVILLE, Fla.- The 7th-ranked Florida Gators used two second-half goals to edge past the 5th-ranked Texas A&M soccer team 3-1 on a muggy Saturday evening at James G. Pressly Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
“Anytime we get to play a high level game in the preseason, that isn’t necessarily going to affect our record, then we value it as a chance for us to try some different things and know that we are going to learn from it,” A&M head coach G Guerrieri said. “When you get a chance to play a team as good as Florida, coming to their place and playing in front of their crowd, it can be a great learning experience. We had some important things exposed during the course of the 90 minute scrimmage that we need to fix before the preseason concludes this week. It also gives us a good evaluation of what we can do well.”
After trading possession of the ball for the majority of the first half, it was Florida who took a 1-0 lead into halftime. Midfielder KeLeigh Hudson planted a cross from Ameera Abdullah inside the back, right post putting Florida on the board in the match’s 35th minute.
The Aggies controlled the tempo of the games’ first 15 minutes. Their best chance to score came in the 10th minutes when Amy Berend was fouled in the midfield circle. Paige Carmichael stepped up to take the free kick, skimming the ball off the back of Ashlee Pistorius’ head towards the goal, but Florida’s Katie Fraine kept the ball from finding the back of the net.
A&M came out attacking in full force in the second 45 minutes of play. Just seven minutes in, senior forward Elisabeth Jones netted the equalizer when Pistorius found her streaking to the back post where Jones blasted her shot past Fraine, making the score one-all.
“I thought we had some very good attacks in both halves and I think we were able to run out a lot of players and get some of those first game nerves and butterflies out of our young players’ system,” Guerrieri continued. “The goal we set up was very well conceived and finished. Now I think it is just a chance for us to really look at ourselves and go forward to the start of the regular season next Friday night.”
Florida would manage to regain the lead in the 60th minute, going up 2-1. A&M’s Arnold blocked a Bianca Gibbs’ shot from the left only to have Anne Rose pick up the rebound and take it to Arnold’s right for the Gators’ second goal of the match.
The Gators added an insurance goal in the 81st minute, passing back and forth across the right side to the middle of the field as Alyshah Smith finished off a double pass from Ashley Harris and Angela Napolitano.
Throughout the match Aggie keeper Kristin Arnold displayed great athleticism in goal. In the 26th minute Abdullah took an A&M defender one-on-one, firing a hard shot at the lower left post, but Arnold was ready and waiting, scooping up the ball up for her first save of the game. Two minutes later Abdullah had another scoring opportunity stifled as Arnold smothered her shot from dead on in the penalty box.
A&M will return home to Aggieland to open the season against Dartmouth on Friday, August 31. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Aggie Soccer Stadium.
“On Friday night we will take off these practice uniforms and finally don our new adidas game uniforms and hopefully be ready to put on a good show for our great fans” Guerrieri ended. “We are going to play a very good team from Dartmouth, and I believe it will be an exciting and entertaining night for the 12th Man. I hope people plan to get there early, because it should be another big opening day crowd at the Aggie Soccer Stadium.”