No. 3 Alabama downs Mississippi State to take SEC West


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama forwards Ashlynn Serepca (19) and Riley Mattingly Parker (10) celebrate a goal in the Crimson Tide’s 4-1 victory over the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Oct. 20 at the Mississippi State Soccer Field in Starkville, Miss.

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

The Alabama soccer team’s 11th straight win came with a nice prize — the SEC West championship. 

The No. 3 Crimson Tide (15-1-1, 8-0 SEC) used three second half goals to take down Mississippi State in Starkville. The four goals were each scored by a different player. 

First, forward Gianna Paul opened the scoring with a goal in the 10th minute. The Bulldogs (10-3-3, 4-3-1 SEC) responded with a score by midfielder Haley McWhirter in the 34th minute, sending the teams to break even at one apiece.  

Paul’s goal was assisted by midfielder Felicia Knox, whose 15th of the season extended her school record and tied head coach Wes Hart’s mark from his college days. 

“Very happy for Felicia for tying my record,” Hart said. “She’s been incredible this season and I’m confident she will blow my assist record away.” 

In the 64th minute, forward Riley Mattingly Parker scored her 12th goal of the season on a header. She then assisted the next goal, which came off the boot of forward Ashlynn Serepca. Mattingly Parker and Serepca were tied with four game-winners each entering Thursday’s match. Mattingly Parker has now taken the lead. 

With less than half a minute to play, Riley Tanner got on the board, with Paul adding the assist. Gessica Skorka assisted Mattingly Parker’s goal. The second half outburst was definitive and stalled any momentum the Bulldogs might have thought they took. 

“What a wonderful performance tonight against a very scrappy and physical Mississippi State team,” Hart said. “It was important that we matched their intensity and physicality. [The] biggest difference in the second half is that we connected to passes and played with a lot more patience. Once we did that, the game opened up.” 

The Crimson Tide collected its seventh road win of the season. 15 straight matches have come and gone without Alabama suffering a loss. 

Alabama was actually outshot by the Bulldogs and took three fewer corners, but still found a way to win by three scores. McKinley Crone recorded four saves on her birthday. The Crimson Tide edged Mississippi State in shots on goal, 7-5. 

In a season that has seen the Crimson Tide become a mainstay in the top five of the rankings, the team’s goals remain squarely on winning titles at the conference and national levels. 

“Winning the West division is an incredible accomplishment, but we are not satisfied,” Hart said. “We know there is more in us. We have our sight[s] set on bigger things.” 

Senior day awaits next for Alabama on Sunday night. The Florida Gators (2-12-1, 0-7-1 SEC) will be the next in line to try to unseat the SEC’s leaders. 

“Being 8-0 in the SEC is pretty impressive,” Hart said. “This league is loaded with quality teams. I think it says a lot [about] our group.” 

Only two matches remain in the regular season. Kickoff for the match against Florida is set for Sunday, Oct. 23 at 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network+. 

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