Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Alabama soccer seeks to continue undefeated record at home

CW / Riley Thompson
Alabama soccer player Leah Kunde (#22) charges toward the ball in a match against Memphis on Aug. 27 at the Alabama Soccer Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

On Sunday, the Alabama soccer team will face one of its greatest challenges of the season. The Crimson Tide kicks off against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Alabama Soccer Stadium Sunday, Sept. 10, at 6 p.m., beginning what might be Alabama’s first true test of the season. Although the teams have never played each other before, both ended their 2022 seasons far into the postseason, and both have started their 2023 seasons with the championship-caliber style. 

 Head coach Wes Hart said the Alabama 2022 team set the 2023 team up for success. 

 “I’m going to miss these seniors. What they’ve meant to and done for this program is remarkable,” Hart said. “I truly can’t put it into words, but no doubt they can leave here knowing they left Bama soccer in a good place.” 

 Last year, Alabama was one game away from playing North Carolina in the College Cup. The Crimson Tide fell in the Final Four to the UCLA Bruins, and the Tar Heels saw a similar fate in the championship. Both teams had astounding 2022 seasons, and this year, both teams are returning similar talent, energy and drive. At the end of August, Alabama trailed one behind North Carolina in the national rankings, falling at No. 5.  

 Both teams also escaped August without dropping a game, although several ties spot their records. The Crimson Tide hasn’t lost in the Alabama Soccer Stadium since 2021, and with this top-10 matchup in Tuscaloosa, there are high hopes of coming out with a win.  

 The Crimson Tide has a notable win against then-No. 17 Memphis to boost its record. Hart said the win was a big moment for the start of Alabama’s season.  

 “I felt like we hadn’t really put a complete game together, and tonight was our closest thing to a complete game,” Hart said. “Certainly, there were some lulls throughout the game, but that’s going to happen in a 90-minute game. I thought from the start of the game, we came with our energy, pressing, hunting and work rate, and really that sets the tone for our soccer.” 

 With the tone set, the team then hosted the Miami Hurricanes, one of Alabama’s few losses last season. Although Miami was unranked and the contest took place before a home crowd, Alabama couldn’t secure the win, ending the match in a draw.  

 The beginning of the season has shown promise, though, that last year’s success is not far in the rearview mirror. Although the Crimson Tide had to replace star goalkeeper McKinley Crone, both graduate student Dylan Pixton and freshman Coralie Lallier have defended the goal successfully. On the offense, both sophomore Gianna Paul and senior Felicia Knox are top scorers, returning with much of the same stardom they had last year. 

 Offensively, Alabama started strong, averaging nearly 17 shots per game at the end of August. However, North Carolina has just over 25 and averages nearly one more goal per game. The Tar Heels return a lot of talent from last year, including senior Avery Patterson, and aren’t plagued by injuries as they were during the College Cup.  

 Overall, Sunday has the potential to be a season-defining game.  

 The game will also coincide with Bama Salute, one of three UA Athletics events this season that will honor active-duty military and veterans. Other events will be held later in the year at volleyball and football games.  

 The Bama Salute matchup against North Carolina will begin at 6 p.m. on Sunday and can be watched on ESPNU.  

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