The No. 11 Texas A&M Aggies broke the seal on their 2020-21 home slate with a 2-1 victory over the No. 15 Florida Gators on a steamy Sunday afternoon at Ellis Field.
Returning to the friendly confines for the first time in 332 days, the Maroon & White scored a pair of set piece goals midway through the first half, as they overwhelmed the Gators in the opening act. Texas A&M owned a 9-1 edge in shots in the first half with Florida not threatening until the final minute of the stanza.
Barbara Olivieri bent in a corner kick from the left side in the 22nd minute and six minutes later Jimena Lopez scored on a penalty kick after Lauren Geczik drew a foul in the box as the Aggies took the 2-0 lead into the intermission.
Texas A&M continued the assault in the second half, but were stymied by the crossbar. Kate Clovin sent a missile in from 12 yards out that Florida keeper Susi Espinoza parried off the crossbar in the 48th minute. Olivieri missed a chance for the brace when her laser from the right corner of the 18-yard box also found the woodwork in the 57th minute. Both attempts would have staked the Aggies to a 3-0 lead.
Florida trimmed the lead in the 58th minute, but the Gators were unable to menace the Aggies down the stretch.
For the match, Texas A&M owned the distinct edge in shots (18-5), shots-on-goal (8-4) and corner kicks (7-1).
Texas A&M improved to 2-1-0 on the year. Florida dropped to 1-1-1.
22’ – From the left arc, Barbara Olivieri bent a corner kick inside the far post for her first career goal. A&M 1, UF 0.
28’ – After Geczik drew a foul in the box, Jimena Lopez sent the PK past the keeper. A&M 2, UF 0.
58’ – Madison Alexander slid a pass across the top of the penalty box from the right of the arc to Syd Kennedy on the left side. Kennedy sent a low driving ball past the reach of an Aggie defender and under a diving keeper. A&M 2, UF 1.
The Aggies return to action Friday when they host the Mississippi State Bulldogs in a 6 p.m. match at Ellis Field.
TEXAS A&M QUOTES
On the Aggies’ high pressure in the first half…
“We knew if Florida could get into a rhythm then they can be a really dynamic and dangerous team. There were a few occasions where they got into a rhythm. The goal they scored they were able to take the ball from us, complete a couple of passes and score. Our players’ ability to keep pressure on them and make them feel uncomfortable as possible was a big part of winning.”
On Barbara Olivieri’s performance in today’s game…
“She is incredibly dynamic; we are really glad she is on our team. She fits a lot of different roles for us, right now with Laney Carroll not being active it allows us to move her up front. When Laney and Barbara are up front together they are a real dynamic attacking force. No one has seen it yet except for Ole Miss. She has international experience, big time credentials behind her that she showed today.”
On the defense’s performance in today’s matchup…
“I was talking to some former players that were here for today’s game, and they were saying how much they were impressed by them. When was the last time that Florida only got one shot in the first half, and they were like never? A large part is due to our defense with Jimena (Lopez), Katie (Smith), Karlina (Sample) and Macie (Kolb). Jimena probably ran 12,000 meters today. They were up and down that sideline sprinting. I am really pleased with how they played.”
Senior defender Jimena Lopez
On her penalty redemption kick from last week…
“I felt so great. All my teammates last week said ‘hey, lift your head up. You’re going to make the next one, we trust you.’ It felt great to be able to back that up today and be able to score and get on the scoreboard.”
On the things the team can work on…
“I think we need to work a little bit more on our finishing and gaining confidence in our forwards. It looked great honestly and I am really proud of our freshman that stepped up. The subs were able to come in and make a huge difference in the game. Everyone who played did their jobs.”
Freshman forward Barbara Olivieri
On her first home game as an Aggie…
“It was amazing. Being my first game here and counting towards the season was insane. I thought we did amazing. I can confidently say we played solid. We kept possession and had plenty of shots, which could have been a 6-1 game.”
On her performance…
“I know I should have finished the first two shots I had, but they were just unlucky. I think it was adrenalin and it being a breakaway situation. At the beginning, we were doing well and getting shots on frame we just need to put them in next time.”
On her first goal of the season…
“It felt great and definitely a confidence booster. I’m excited to keep scoring more in the future.”