Soccer takes on Chattanooga in final non-conference contest

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

After one of the biggest wins in program history, the 11th-ranked Alabama soccer team will be playing the final game of its current homestand on Sunday against The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

The Crimson Tide (7-1-1) secured its third ranked win of the season on Thursday night against the No. 5 South Carolina Gamecocks. Alabama has gone seven matches in a row without losing. After a tie against The University of Utah, the team has won three straight games, including their shut out against the Gamecocks. 

Chattanooga (2-2-2) had to wait four matches for its first win of the season, but won its most recent outing against North Alabama, a team Alabama also beat. In their most recent three matches, the Mocs are 2-0-1. 

They carry a road mark of 1-1-1.  

In the South Carolina match, Alabama had scores from midfielder Felicia Knox and forward Riley Mattingly Parker. Mattingly Parker now has seven goals this season. Both goals were in the second half after a tightly contested first frame.  

The defense, led by Brooke Steere, Sasha Pickard and goalkeeper McKinley Crone held one of the nation’s toughest teams off the board. Head coach Wes Hart praised all three players after the match. 

In its toughest tests, the Crimson Tide has risen to the occasion, Hart pointed out. Hart and players also emphasized the importance of preparing the same for all opponents and respecting all opponents. 

Mattingly Parker pointed out that as soon as you don’t respect an opponent, “That’s when the tables flip on you.”  

Experience matters, and this group has it in spades. They will know how to make sure their performance doesn’t taper off after a big win. Hart has called them mature and said the team has many good leaders. 

In order to keep its undefeated streak intact heading into the full slate of conference play, the Crimson Tide may need to score in the first half. Getting and extending the lead wasn’t an issue against South Carolina, but the goals came later. Establishing momentum is perhaps the key to victory on Sunday. 

Frustrating the opponent on defense is another strength of this Alabama team. They did it to Clemson, South Carolina and, perhaps most effectively, BYU. When another team sees its best scoring chances go to waste, it cripples that team’s odds of winning and staying competitive for 90 minutes. 

Chattanooga can score — it was only shut out in the season opener. If Alabama holds them to one goal, though, statistics indicate the Mocs won’t win. Chattanooga is 0-1-2 in matches, and they tend to score only once. 

The Crimson Tide has shut out its opponents five times in 2022. Maintaining intensity throughout the match has been a focal point of the team’s success, and it’s something both Knox and Mattingly Parker said the team tries to do.  

When all phases are working, there isn’t much other teams can do to stop the Crimson Tide, especially at home, where Alabama is 4-0. 

Just because the Mocs are an unranked opponent doesn’t mean the Crimson Tide is looking past them. The intangibles Alabama has already established need to remain intact for the Crimson Tide to collect a fourth consecutive win, no matter who the team is facing.  

Kickoff at the Alabama Soccer Stadium is set for Sunday, Sept. 18th at 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network+.

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]