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Barbara Olivieri

Texas A&M’s Barbara Olivieri sets standard early as SEC Freshman of the Year

Texas A&M's Barbara Olivieri sets high standards

Barbara Olivieri appeared destined for greatness since she first donned an Albion Hurricanes jersey in 2013, if not earlier, in the Houston suburb of Katy.

Before long, the Texas A&M freshman midfielder was called into U.S. Youth national team camps at U-14 and U-16. She eventually chose to play for Venezuela’s U-17 national team during U-17 World Cup qualifiers in 2018 while establishing herself as the best girls soccer player in Houston while at Katy Tompkins High.

Olivieri has clearly grown accustomed to excellence, so she wasn’t surprised by how well she settled into the rigors of Southeastern Conference women’s soccer. 

“I wouldn’t say surprised,” she says of her SEC Freshman of the Year campaign. “(It’s) everything I’ve practiced for and worked for.”

Olivieri helped the Aggies win the Southeastern Conference in the fall when the team was led by seniors Jimena Lopez, the 2020 SEC Defender of the Year, and Addie McCain, the 2020 SEC Midfielder of the Year.

Barbara Olivieri leads Aggies attack

Lopez and McCain both graduated in the fall, leaving a huge void that has been partially filled by Olivieri. The NCAA women’s soccer tournament is usually held in the fall. It was moved to the spring this season to accommodate the schools that pushed their regular seasons to the spring because of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Jimena Lopez
Mexican national team star Jimena Lopez, the SEC Defender of the Year, graduated and signed to play in Spain. Photo By Craig Bisacre/Texas A&M Athletics

Unfortunately for Texas A&M, Lopez and McCain opted to start their professional careers after the fall season. 

“Those were two big players and leaders, two seniors that have been here and impacted a lot,” Olivieri said of Lopez and McCain. “We’ve done good to not let that affect too much. … Just making sure that for me especially just trying to be as much of a leader as I can and just kind of play the best I can.”

In many ways, this is now Olivieri’s time to lead the SEC’s perennial soccer power. She’ll lead the attack against No. 19 Oklahoma State in the Sweet 16 today in Cary, N.C.

Olivieri set a high standard for herself in the fall while earning spots on the All-SEC First Team and the All-SEC Freshman Team while also being named the SEC Freshman of the Year Award.

“I always want to exceed what I do and be as best as I can,” she said. “Having that SEC (Freshman) of the Year, I just want to make sure to exceed that and not fall under that.”

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