Aggies open season against Santa Clara

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SANTA CLARA, California – The No. 12 Texas A&M Aggies open their 27th season Thursday with a top 15 clash against the No. 13 Santa Clara Broncos at Stevens Stadium. First kick is slated for 9:30 p.m.

Fans may listen to the match in the Brazos Valley on 97.3 FM and, worldwide, on RadioAggieland.com, the Radio Aggieland app and 12thMan.com. Live streaming is available on WCCSports.com.

The match features two of the four winningest active coaches in women’s soccer with Santa Clara’s Jerry Smith ranking third with 482 victories and Texas A&M’s G Guerrieri ranking fourth with 458.

The match also marks the return of the ZIemer sisters to Northern California. Taylor and Tera’s mother, Trisha (Gretton) Ziemer was a three-year letterwinner for Santa Clara and played on their 1989 College Cup squad. Their father, Marcus ZIemer, is starting his 29th season as men’s soccer head coach at Sonoma State.

Since 1993, Texas A&M is 21-5 all-time in the first match of the year. The Aggies have won 14 of their last 17 season openers with the losses coming to then-No. 1 North Carolina in 2010, then-No. 7 Duke in 2013 and then-No. 1 Florida State in 2016.

Texas A&M returns 16 letterwinners from the 2018 campaign, including nine players who started at least 50 percent of last season's 23 matches. The returnees account for 40 of the Aggies' 49 goals from last season. The Maroon & White welcome back All-American Ally Watt and fellow All-SEC performer Addie McCain. Other key returnees include SEC All-Freshman Ásdís Halldórsdóttir and Mexico National Team standout Jimena López.

Watt was the Aggies' leading scorer last season, logging 33 points on 15 goals and three assists. McCain chipped in with 14 points on six goals and two assists.

The Maroon & White concluded their 2018 campaign with a record of 17-5-1 and a winning percentage of .761. The Aggies obtained their 24th straight appearance the NCAA Championship Tournament and advanced to the Sweet Sixteen for the 15th time. It was the 21st consecutive season where the Aggies reached at least the second round.

The Broncos are poised for a fantastic season, returning 41 of their 52 goals from a 2018 squad that finished 17-3-2, including 7-2 in the West Coast Conference. Santa Clara returns West Coast Conference Player of the Year and First-Team All-American Kelcie Hedge who logged eight goals and two assists last season. Hedge and Alex Loera were named to the MAC Hermann Trophy watch list. Hedge and Loera picked up All-WCC honors last season along with Maddy Gonzalez, Kelsey Turnbow, Marika Guay and Skylar Smith.

The Aggies are 1-2 all-time against Santa Clara. Last season, the Maroon & White bested the Broncos, 4-0, at Ellis Field in a match, which was played much tighter than the score indicated. Tied 0-0 at the intermission, the Maroon & White got second half goals from Watt, Halldórsdóttir, Jordan Hill and Emily Bates, as well as two assists from Jimena Lopez. In their first two meetings, Santa Clara entered ranked No. 3 in the nation. In 1998, the Broncos best the Aggies, 3-0, in College Station. In 2006, Santa Clara blanked A&M at the UCLA Women’s Cup in Los Angeles, 2-0.