Amidst its dream season, No. 1 Alabama believes it can sustain success for years to come

Austin Hannon | @austin_hannon1, Sports Editor

On April 9, 2015, former Alabama athletic director Bill Battle hired Wes Hart, a former Major League Soccer player, to take over the Crimson Tide soccer program. 

Hart was hired from Florida State University, where he was an assistant for two years, including the Seminoles’ national championship season in 2014. 

“I am pleased to announce the hiring of Wes Hart as the new head soccer coach at the University of Alabama,” Battle said at Hart’s introduction. “Wes brings a unique and distinctive background that spans across all major levels of elite soccer, including being a national champion as a player, club coach and Division I women’s soccer assistant coach just a season ago. I am confident that Wes’ array of experiences will successfully translate and resonate with our entire soccer program. I strongly believe that Wes will be an excellent head coach, and will provide our student-athletes with ample opportunities for success on and off the field.” 

Hart was taking over a program that had never truly seen any success — he wanted to change that. 

“The culture and the foundation that we’ve built upon — it wasn’t a quick fix,” Hart said. “It was years and years of engraining the right mentality and work ethic and bringing in the right players. Just so many things that take time to build.” 

That change began last season. 

In 2021-22, the Crimson Tide had an up-and-down season. On its home field, Alabama finished 10-2 and had two top 25 wins. On the road, the Crimson Tide was a miserable 1-6-1. 

The sole road win came in the NCAA Tournament against the Clemson University Tigers. Not only was it Alabama’s first road win of the season, but it was the program’s first ever win in the postseason. 

The Crimson Tide were then handled by a far superior Brigham Young University team in the second round ending what was the best season in Alabama history. 

The team wanted more. The Crimson Tide returned essentially its entire team in 2022-23, but no one saw this type of run coming. Alabama is 22-2-1 on the season, and after its win over the University of California, Irvine in the Sweet 16, is headed to the Elite Eight. 

It’s been quite the program turnaround, so now the question is — can this momentum be sustained? 

Hart believes so. 

“Unfortunately, we’ll be losing Kat [Rogers] next year to graduation — even though we’d love to keep her a sixth [year],” Hart said. “Thankfully, we’ve got Felicia [Knox] back and a lot of good players coming back that really kind of helped set the foundation for this program. I believe we’ve built this in a way that we’re going to be successful for years to come. Are we going to be able to win 22 [or] 23 games every year? I don’t know — that will certainly be our goal. But I believe we’ve built a program here that has the chance to win a lot of games each year. So, I’m certainly excited about that.” 

The Crimson Tide will take on either the University of South Carolina or Duke University when the Elite Eight comes to the Alabama Soccer Stadium on Friday, Nov. 25. 

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