History at Home: Alabama draws Jackson State in first home NCAA Tournament match

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

The Alabama soccer team is gearing up for the biggest home match in program history. 

On Friday, Nov. 11, the Crimson Tide will host an NCAA tournament match for the very first time. No. 1 seed Alabama (19-2-1) will welcome the Jackson State University Tigers to open postseason play. 

Alabama was selected as a first seed on Monday afternoon. 

The match will be the first for Alabama since its 15-match winning streak came to a close in the SEC Tournament finale. Head coach Wes Hart said his team’s spirits are high in anticipation of the postseason. 

“For us, it was about getting our legs back under us, getting fresh again,” Hart said. “Based on what I saw yesterday, I believe we’re there.” 

The Crimson Tide has not played at home since Oct. 23 against Florida, and Hart welcomes the return to Tuscaloosa. 

“To be back home and get back into our normal routine, to be back on our field, which I believe is one of the best fields in the country, and to be able to play in front of our fans, which has been the best fanbase in the country this year, we’re super excited,” he said. 

“The crowd this year at Alabama Soccer Stadium has been incredible,” goalkeeper McKinley Crone said. “We would love to be able to play in front of a packed crowd because it’s so exciting for us out there.”  

Jackson State (11-7-1) is entering Tuscaloosa as the champion of the Southwestern Atlantic Conference. The Tigers and Alabama share a common opponent in the University of North Alabama. Though Jackson State will be the underdog in the match, the team has won 10 of 11, including its conference tournament. 

“Jackson State’s a great team, but ultimately it’s back to what we know how to do, making sure that we’re pressing right from the start, impacting the game, and asserting ourselves right away,” Crone said. 

Alabama has done something Jackson State did not — beat North Alabama.  

The Crimson Tide has also been in the Tigers’ shoes. Last season, it was Alabama playing the role of the upstart in hopes of a tournament-opening upset. The ensuing win over Clemson helped change the trajectory of the program. 

Alabama has made a habit, though, of focusing on each contest one at a time. Forward Riley Mattingly Parker said prior to the Crimson Tide’s meeting with the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga that an opponent not given respect can flip the tables on a match. 

The ever-focused Alabama team has remained committed to its goals, and has the opportunity to make another in a long line of statements this season. 

The Crimson Tide has had a season full of program landmarks, and Friday brings another — the chance to win in the postseason on home soil.  

The opening game of Alabama’s NCAA Tournament run is set to get underway at 6 p.m. CT at the Alabama Soccer Stadium. 

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