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 crumbles in penalty kicks, falls to Mississippi State in SEC quarterfinals

Courtesy of UA Athletics

Editor’s note (11/4/23): The original article had the wrong player throwing a handball, so this was corrected. (Defender Bella Scaturro Bright instead of midfielder Sydney Japic.)

On a night full of ghouls, ghosts and goblins, nothing proved scarier to Alabama soccer than the pressure of taking a penalty kick. 

After competing for 110 minutes of action Tuesday night, the Crimson Tide missed all four attempts in penalty kicks en route to a crushing loss to Mississippi State. 

In the first half, no one would have thought it would get to this point. Alabama dominated the first half, playing what was quite possibly its best soccer of the season. 

The Crimson Tide outshot the Bulldogs 10-2 through 45 minutes. Forward Gianna Paul played like a woman possessed, firing off five of those shots on her own (she finished the game with eight). 

In the 24th minute, senior defender Brooke Steere scored off a beautiful corner from fellow senior defender Marianna Annest. 

“We got outcompeted this first half,” Mississippi State head coach James Armstrong said of his team’s performance. 

The No. 21 Bulldogs, who just 10 days ago stunned Alabama 2-0 in Tuscaloosa on its senior night, were not going to just roll over. 

A handball from defender Bella Scaturro Bright in the 55th minute sent junior forward Aitana Martinez-Montoya to the penalty line, where she beat freshman keeper Coralie Lallier to tie up the game. 

It was the Spaniard’s sixth goal of the season, and her second time scoring against the Crimson Tide in as many games. 

Both teams had an abundance of chances to pull ahead in the final 35 minutes of regulation, but Lallier and Mississippi State senior keeper Maddy Anderson, the Bulldogs’ all-time shutout leader, both held strong to send the game to extra time.  

After surviving a minor scare early in the first extra period, freshman forward Nadia Ramadan had a big-time opportunity in the 99th minute. 

Then the Bulldogs sprinted down the field, and disaster almost struck as senior forward Taylor James fired a rocket from point-blank range. 

But Lallier’s exceptional night continued as she timed out her dive perfectly to make the play and send the game to penalties. 

It was the first time either program had ever participated in a penalty shootout in the SEC tournament. 

Midfielder Felicia Knox was up first. The 2022 SEC Midfielder of the Year and 2023 All-SEC selection stepped up to the line with a chance to give her team the momentum it needed to win the game. 

Blocked by Anderson. 

Then came the Crimson Tide killer, Martinez-Montoya. 

Goal. Never a doubt about it. 

Next came Annest. The senior has been undeniably clutch all season, from her game-winning assist versus UAB back in August to her 86th-minute goal to beat Missouri last Thursday. 

Wide left. 

Down 1-0 in the shootout, Lallier stepped up, blocking junior defender Rylie Combs’ shot to keep Alabama in striking distance. 

Up third was the Bosnian Bomber, Japic. 

Another whiff as the ball sailed 15 feet over the net. 

Lallier very nearly made another miraculous stop on the next kick, getting a hand on grad senior forward Kennedy White’s shot, but the ball was kicked just hard enough to give the Bulldogs the 2-0 advantage. 

On its last legs, with its back against the wall, the Crimson Tide turned where it always does in times of trouble — to Paul. 

But the 2022 SEC Freshman of the Year, who led the Crimson Tide in scoring with eight goals this year, who fired off so many shots tonight and appeared destined to finally get one, was stopped yet again. 

Game over. 

Mississippi State stormed the field as the team celebrated its first-ever appearance in the SEC semifinals. 

Alabama walked off, defeated. 

The Crimson Tide’s story is not over. The No. 24 team in the nation will in all likelihood host a first-round match in the NCAA tournament, starting next weekend. 

“Obviously we wanted to advance in hopes of winning the tournament,” head coach Wes Hart said. “But perhaps a few days of rest and recovery will do is well as we prepare for NCAA Tournament.” 

The NCAA will announce the field of 64 on Nov. 6. 

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