A look at the record-breaking season for the Alabama soccer program

Martha Glen Sease, Contributing Writer

If the 2022 Alabama soccer season has taught fans anything, it’s that one, records are made to be broken, and two, Alabama might just be a soccer school. 

The Crimson Tide took down the University of California, Irvine Anteaters 3-1 on Nov. 20 to extend its unbeaten record at home to 19 games and 435 days, dating back to Sept. 21, 2021, with a 2-0 victory over the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  

Alabama (22-2-1) accomplished this as a No. 1 seed and regional host for the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament. This tournament run is historic for the Crimson Tide, as is most of its 2022 season. 

Alabama’s 22 wins is a program record. This record comes off the back of a perfect 15-game run from Sept. 6 to Nov. 3, and a perfect 10-0 performance in conference play. The 2022 Crimson Tide squad put together the fourth perfect SEC run of all time and the first such run since the 2016 South Carolina Gamecocks’ season. Alabama was crowned regular season SEC champions and made it to the SEC Tournament final for the second time in program history, and the first time since 1995 — before any current players were alive.  

Many loyal Crimson Tide fans realized this squad was doing something special early in the season. As a result, Alabama soccer set new attendance records this season. Attendance records averaged 880 fans per match over the 2022 regular season, not counting the fans who lined up outside the Alabama Soccer Complex to tailgate from their cars. The Crimson Tide only saw three games this season with fewer than 650 fans in the stadium — one game was an exhibition match before the season began, and the other were two non-conference matchups early in the season. 

The Crimson Tide helped set attendance records at the SEC Tournament in Pensacola, Florida, as well, and surpassed 1,000 fans four times in the regular season, and twice more during the first three NCAA Tournament matchups. The final regular season match this season — senior night against Florida — set a new attendance record with 1,882 fans in the stands.  

“In my biased opinion, we’ve got the best fans in the nation,” Riley Mattingly Parker said after the SEC Tournament semifinal match against the Vanderbilt Commodores. “I can’t thank them enough for that. They don’t know what it means to us to have an atmosphere like that.”  

Wins come off the back of tenacity and solid performances, and with that comes individual accolades and broken records. The 2022 Alabama soccer squad won six of the seven major postseason awards. Head coach Wes Hart was named SEC coach of the year, Mattingly Parker was named forward of the year and SEC scholar-athlete of the year, Felicia Knox was named midfielder of the year, Reyna Reyes was named defender of the year, and forward Gianna Paul was named freshman of the year. Additionally, Alabama had three players named to the First Team All-SEC squad, three players named to the Second Team All-SEC squad and two players named to the All-Freshman squad. 

The season also saw Mattingly Parker etch her name into Alabama record books 10 times, including No. 1 in goals on the season at 17, No. 1 points leader within a season at 41 and No. 5 in career points at 63. 

Knox’s name appears in the Crimson Tide’s record book five times, including all-time assists leader with 24 since joining Alabama in 2020 and single-season assists with 19.  

Goalkeeper McKinley Crone holds 10 records for Alabama including No. 1 in career shutouts at 21 and No. 1 in season shutouts with 10. 

Midfielder Kat Rogers is also in the record book three times including No. 3 for career assists with 19 and No. 3 for single-season assists with nine.   

“All the, you know, individual stuff is cool,” Rogers said. “But it’s the team. And where our team is, you know culture wise and mentality wise is translating to success on the field. This is what I wanted to come to Alabama for, and it’s been awesome to be a part of.”  

As a No. 1 seed, Alabama entering the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament is not a Cinderella story. But it doesn’t change the fact that this is a historic run of firsts for the 2022 squad and the Alabama soccer program generally. This run marks the first time in program history the team is seeded No. 1, the first time the team has hosted a regional round, the first back-to-back wins, the first Sweet Sixteen and Elite Eight appearance, and the first time having back-to-back tournament berths. All of this comes with the program’s fifth overall tournament appearance.  

The season is already historic, and the 2022 squad is seeking to make even more history as the Crimson Tide hosts the Blue Devils of Duke University on Friday, Nov. 25, at 6 p.m. CT.  

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