No. 3 Alabama’s win streak, perfect SEC run ends at hands of South Carolina in tournament final


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama midfielder Macy Clem (2) kicks the ball in the Crimson Tide’s 1-0 loss to the South Carolina Gamecocks in the SEC Tournament final on Nov. 6 at the Ashton Brosnaham Soccer Complex in Pensacola, Fla.

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

PENSACOLA, Fla. – It was an intense and closely contested bracket to decide the SEC tournament champion, but at the end of the line, it was a matchup between the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds for the title. The rematch between No. 3 Alabama and No. 13 South Carolina was the headlining act of the tournament in Pensacola, Florida. 

In the end, it was the Gamecocks who finally dealt Alabama (19-2-1, 12-1 SEC) its first loss since Aug. 21. A second-half goal by Brianna Behm in the final seconds of the 56th minute sealed the deal. 

The first half was virtually even, much as the regular season meeting between the two teams was. Neither group was willing to give an inch, and Alabama’s lone shot on goal in the half came up empty. The revenge-minded Gamecocks had stayed in the fight. 

The Crimson Tide did outshoot the Gamecocks in the first half, 5-4. South Carolina kept Alabama from taking any corners —a Crimson Tide offensive staple.  

Once again, though, it would be down to the final 45 minutes to decide the matchup between the teams. With overtime in play — unlike in the regular season — on a hot day, extra time just wasn’t an ideal way to settle it. 

South Carolina made sure that wouldn’t come to pass. Alabama had a close chance at a tie with less than five minutes to go — the play was even reviewed to see if it was a goal. Close isn’t a score, though, and the Crimson Tide’s win streak stopped at 15 matches.  

South Carolina had avenged its shutout defeat from the regular season. Alabama’s losses have both come by 1-0 margins.  

“We came here with the intention of winning the tournament, but super proud of our group,” head coach Wes Hart said. “We gave it everything we had on the day, South Carolina was just a little bit better. We’ve accomplished a lot, we’re a good team, but today we just didn’t have enough.” 

Despite the defeat, Alabama had three players named to the all-tournament team. Goalkeeper McKinley Crone, defender Sasha Pickard and forward Ashlynn Serepca were awarded the honor. Serepca scored the game winner against Mississippi State and Crone and Pickard consistently made some of the best defensive plays of the tournament. Crone’s and Pickard’s first-half efforts in the semifinal match against Vanderbilt were part of the reason Alabama played on Sunday at all. 

“I know it’s going to burn at me the whole bus ride home,” Hart said. “The good news for us is that it’s not done yet. There’s still more soccer ahead of us.” 

Indeed, Sunday’s loss does not mark the end of the program-best Alabama soccer season. For the first time ever, Tuscaloosa will host an NCAA tournament match when the event begins.  

The Crimson Tide went a perfect 10-0 at home in the regular season, including the prior shutout win over the Gamecocks.  

The first round of the NCAA Tournament will begin on Nov. 11. Alabama will learn its seeding and matchup on Monday, Nov. 7, at 3 p.m. CT. 

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