COLLEGE STATION, Texas - Texas A&M soccer Head Coach G Guerrieri announced the Aggies' 2012 schedule today, following the release of the fall and winter Southeastern Conference sports schedules.
"I think our fans will be excited once they see this schedule," Guerrieri said. "Especially the games we will be hosting at Ellis Field. This year's home schedule features 13 home dates, headlined by eight matches against teams who made it into last year's NCAA Championship Tournament, including six from the SEC."
The team won its final Big 12 Championship in 2011 and prepares for a new list of opponents in the SEC, hosting seven conference opponents at Ellis Field and traveling to six SEC matches. The No. 12 (final) Aggies will take on five 2011 conference champions and 11 teams from the 2011 NCAA Tournament. Four of those teams advanced to the NCAA Second Round while two battled each other in the Sweet 16 and one advanced to the Elite Eight.
The Aggies' 2011 opponents ended the season with an average RPI ranking of 80.72, while A&M's 2012 opponents ended the 2011 season with a 65.85 RPI average, proving to be a more difficult slate overall.
"We have always played one of the toughest college soccer schedules in America, and this one averages out to be much tougher than last year," Guerrieri said. "For example, the average RPI of our opponents in 2011 was No. 81. The average RPI going into 2012 is a more powerful No. 66. There are no soft or easy games on this schedule. We will see much bigger challenges, week-in and week-out, throughout our 2012 season."
After the annual Maroon & White Exhibition Match (Aug. 17), the Aggies will kick off the 2012 season in California against 2011 NCAA Tournament teams UC Irvine (Aug. 20) and San Diego (Aug. 22) at their respective campuses. The Anteaters defeated the Aggies at Ellis Field in August of 2011 and finished the regular season with a Big West Conference Championship before falling to San Diego in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The Toreros went on to finish the year with a Sweet 16 berth and a first-ever West Coast Conference (WCC) Championship.
The Aggies will return from California to host a five-game home stand, hosting UTSA (Aug. 25), Rutgers (Aug. 31), Saint Mary's College of California (Sept. 2), No. 14 Long Beach State (Sept. 7) and Central Michigan (Sept. 9). Saint Mary's enjoyed its first 10-win season since 2001 in 2011, while LBSU advanced past San Diego to its first-ever Elite Eight appearance. The 49ers were also the 2011 Big West Tournament Champions.
After hosting for three consecutive weekends, A&M will jump right into SEC play, traveling to Louisiana State (Sept. 14) and Mississippi (Sept. 16). LSU was a 2011 NCAA Tournament team, falling to the Aggies at Ellis Field in a 4-0 NCAA First Round shutout.
No. 25 South Carolina (Sept. 21) and Auburn (Sept. 23) make their first SEC trips to College Station to take on the Big 12 Champion Aggies in a 2011 conference championship weekend. The Gamecocks won their first-ever regular-season SEC Championship in 2011 and the Tigers came out ahead in the 2011 SEC Tournament after entering the week as the No. 7 seed. Both teams competed in the Big Dance, finishing the season in the NCAA Second Round.
A&M will also take SEC road trips to Kentucky (Sept. 28), Mississippi State (Sept. 30), Arkansas (Oct. 12) and Vanderbilt (Oct. 14). The Aggies will host Alabama (Oct. 5) and Florida (Oct. 7), and will finish the 2012 regular season with a trio of conference matches against Tennessee (Oct. 19), Georgia (Oct. 21) and fellow Big 12 transfer Missouri (Oct. 25). Kentucky, Alabama and Tennessee each ended the 2011 season in the NCAA First Round, while Florida and Georgia advanced to the field of 32.
"Our ticket office will start to renew season tickets, and then offer new season ticket holder options soon," Guerrieri said. "I'm hoping to see Ellis Field's reserved sections completely sold out in 2012. There will be a new roof structure over those seats this fall, which will provide shade and make it very comfortable for our season ticket holders. Plus, when you look at the quality of the games we will be hosting in 2012, those west-side seats become very attractive for our most loyal supporters."
The Aggies start their spring exhibition season this weekend with a 4 p.m. Sunday match vs. Rice. Tickets to all spring games are FREE. To learn more about Texas A&M soccer, log on to AggieAthletics.com or follow @AggieSoccer on Twitter.