For the first time in the Texas A&M soccer program’s 29-year history, the Aggies have succumbed to a four-game losing streak thanks to a 3-1 loss to No. 15 Tennessee in Southeastern Conference play Friday at Ellis Field.
“We need to have more of a want to win,” A&M midfielder Carissa Boeckmann said. “We all want it, but do we really want it? It doesn’t look like it when we’re getting scored on like that or when we’re up a goal and we’re losing back three goals. Hopefully, our mindset changes next week. Obviously, everyone is frustrated.”
The Aggies (5-6-1, 1-3) had lost three straight by shutout but mounted more of an attack Friday thanks in part to the return of leading goal scorer Maile Hayes and reigning SEC freshman of the year Barbara Olivieri from injury.
The pair played just over an hour in the 90-minute match in what A&M head coach G Guerrieri called a “rehab assignment,” and they provided a boost for an Aggie offense that had been without six attacking players over the previous two games. Hayes and Olivieri combined for five shots, including one on frame.
A&M briefly started on the front foot but quickly fell victim to a barrage of hard Volunteer tackles and challenges. It took a quarter of the game for the Aggies to fully adjust to Tennessee’s physicality, Olivieri said.
“At the beginning we were a little sloppy, but I think at the end of the first half we got a little into it and kind of knew how to play around them,” she said.
The Aggies broke the ice after a stalemate first half thanks to determination by Boeckmann. The freshman dribbled past two defenders, powered through a would-be tackler into the penalty box and curled a shot just inside the post in the 53rd minute for a 1-0 lead.
“In the first half, I missed a goal that should have been put away, so I was pretty determined just to put it in the net and help my team out,” Boeckmann said.
She had one of A&M’s best two scoring chances in the first half, hitting a low, curling drive toward the bottom right corner of the net. Tennessee goalkeeper Lindsey Romig, who holds the SEC’s best save percentage, dove to her left to make the fingertip stop.
While Boeckmann got some revenge, A&M’s lead didn’t last long as Tennessee (10-1, 3-1) quickly took control of the match.
Two minutes after A&M’s goal, Tennessee’s Jaida Thomas tied the match with a goal off an assist from freshman midfielder Taylor Huff, who forced the action on the play. Huff pushed down the right flank and past Aggie junior center back Katie Smith, who slipped while trying to stop the attack. Huff had a clear path to pass the ball into the box to Thomas, who flicked a nifty chip shot over Aggie goalkeeper Kenna Caldwell’s arms, off the crossbar and into the net.
The Volunteers entered Friday’s match ranked second in the nation in corner kicks per game at 9.1 and made the most of two of their eight to take the lead.
Thomas put Tennessee ahead in the 63rd minute when junior midfielder Claudia Dipasupil looped a corner kick into the box, and Thomas headed the shot just over Caldwell’s hand and just under the bar. Tennessee put the game to bed in the 76th minute on another corner kick that freshman Lawson Renie headed first, then Mackenzie George knocked it in with another header for a 3-1 lead.
“We got out of our game plan,” Guerrieri said. “We opted to not play to our strengths for whatever reasons. If we’re going to play to the other team’s strengths, the other team is going to have the advantages.”