By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
COLLEGE STATION, Texas – G. Guerrieri is in his 20th season as the head coach of the Texas A&M women’s soccer program, having led the Aggies to 17 consecutive NCAA Tournaments and a combined 12 Big 12 regular-season and tournament championships. In its first season in the Southeastern Conference, Texas A&M currently holds a 12-2-1 record and leads the SEC Western Division.
Guerrieri sat down with the SEC Digital Network on Thursday to discuss his 2012 team and some of his program’s traditions in this edition of SEC “Five Questions.”
SEC Digital Network: Your teams had a lot of success in the Big 12 Conference and you’re currently leading the SEC Western Division. How much of a goal was it for your team heading into this season to challenge for the SEC title?
G. Guerrieri: “That’s always been a goal of ours. Our big goal is to win a national championship and try to pick up as much hardware along the way. With the success that we’ve had over the years, winning the conference is something that we’ve been able to do a lot in the past. We knew it would be a giant challenge in the SEC, but it’s something that is still right near the top of our list of goals.”
SEC Digital Network: Coming off of a loss to Florida on Sunday, how do you think that loss can help your team down the road?
G. Guerrieri: “No one likes to lose, especially at home, but they gave us a really good lesson that we can use to make the team better and stronger. We had our chances to win the game and we didn’t do a good enough job of it. The hardest thing, and it’s a shame because Florida is such a good team, but we had good situations and we didn’t take care of them, and they did. We’ve given up seven goals this season and two were on Sunday. I can guarantee we are working a lot on the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ and ‘what happeneds’ on those, but we’re also going to learn from that in the future and do a better job of battening down the hatches.”
SEC Digital Network: Your program has a pretty impressive streak of advancing to the NCAA Tournament every season since 1995; what has been the key to that streak?
G. Guerrieri: “We’ve won a lot of things over the past 20 years and achieved a lot, but one of the secrets to our success has been the consistency of our staff and the work-ethic the players have always had under this staff. Seventeen NCAA Tournaments in a row, and hopefully on our way to 18, has just become a standard and an expectation of what this team is about. Our goals remain on the future and a national championship. The consistency of staff has helped us to build and learn from our past experiences to help us take the program further.”
SEC Digital Network: How beneficial has it been for your team to have such a balanced approach this season?
G. Guerrieri: Last year, we were a team that was starting seven freshmen. We led the nation in scoring, but we gave up a lot of goals early on in the year. This year, our defense is a much more mature unit. The team, in general, has brought a good level of experiences in a lot of big, challenging environments that they’ve played in over the past couple of years. That has brought a lot of balance to our team and a lot of confidence that we can score goals, and also hold teams defensively.”
SEC Digital Network: Texas A&M currently leads the SEC in attendance and has always been a top of the national leaders in home attendance, how have you created such a great home-field advantage and how beneficial has it been to your team’s success?
G. Guerrieri: “It’s been a lot of work over the years. We do a lot of work in our community, especially with kids, to try to make it understood that they’re the owners of our team. A lot of our players are treated by rock stars by kids around town because of that and the way they are appreciated by families, as well as students on campus. As far as our stadium, the unique thing about us, especially as compared to the other really good facilities in the SEC is that, rather than having just one big grandstand on one side and emptiness on the other sides, we spread our crowd out and have seating all the way around. Teams come in here and they’re absolutely surrounded. We purposely built our stadium so that the crowd was close to the action, and our stadium has a steep pitch to it. The energy reverberates throughout the stadium and that’s what we really need. Plus, on top of that, are just all the traditions of Texas A&M and the spirit of the 12th Man. We get a good number of students every game, standing the whole game, singing and swaying. They’re a participant in the action and just up our energy level.”