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

Bernier back on the pitch

Alabama women’s soccer junior goalkeeper Justine Bernier just returned from a training stint with the Canadian National Team in Italy and her absence certainly did not go unnoticed.

The Crimson Tide went 2-2 while Bernier was in Italy. After a 1-0 victory over Texas Tech on Sept. 17, Bernier is now 3-0 with two shutouts for Alabama this season. The one goal she has allowed this season was scored in the last 10 minutes of a 2-1 win in the season opener against Samford.

“We like all of our goalies, but there was a little uncertainty there,” head coach Todd Bramble said. “Having her back there has a calming effect on the team. She’s a big-time goalkeeper.”

            Junior Carly Mygrants said, “We’ve just played with her for so long, we got really good at reading her, and she got really good at reading us. We had to accommodate for the other keepers. We were excited to have her back.”

            Even Bernier realized how her absence affected the team.

            “It’s tough when you lose any player,” Bernier said. “Our bond is so strong that not having it on the field made an effect. The others did a great job stepping in.”

Her return to the Capstone was seamless and she got right to work on preparing for the Tide’s next game.

            “There was a genuine happiness on the team that she got the chance to have that experience,” Bramble said. “But we missed her on and off the field. She’s the motivator. She keeps them going, keeps the competitive energy going.”

            The game against the then 7-1 Texas Tech Red Raiders proved her experience against professional competition will help her the rest of the season.

“It was a great experience for me,” Bernier said. “I got to experience a different culture and I learned a lot about the game.”

            Bernier jumped at the chance to train with her national team, and has taken away invaluable lessons and experiences.

            “Goalkeeping is all about your own personal style,” she said. “Going over there and getting other opinions on it and doing well with it, it was exciting and gave me more confidence as a keeper. I got more comfortable in my technique.”

            Bramble could notice a difference in his junior goalie when she returned.

            “Her fitness level was improved,” Bramble said. “She was much quicker and she was handling the ball well. Taking shots from professionals like that, you get used to a much faster pace. When she came back, she was handling the ball so much better.”

            Bernier’s intensity, which has drawn comparisons to Alabama’s notorious strength and conditioning coach Scott Cochran, was evident in her first game back against the Red Raiders.

            Bernier put on an impressive performance, pitching a shutout and getting two saves in the Tide’s victory, which was also Bramble’s 100th win.

            “[Playing for Alabama again] felt great,” Bernier said. “Putting on my Alabama uniform again felt amazing.”

            “I was pleased with her performance in her role as a leader. She also did a great job with corner kicks. Being aggressive, going out there and punching them away,” Bramble said.

            Alabama will play two home games this weekend. The Tide will host Ole Miss on Friday and Mississippi State on Sunday.

            “Opening up the Southeastern Conference schedule leads to a different emotion,” Bernier said. “It’s a different kind of soccer. We really need to come away with six points here.”

            Bramble took a more introspective look before preparing for the Tide’s SEC opener.

            “After analyzing ourselves, it doesn’t look like we have any glaring weaknesses,” he said. “We’re trying to sharpen ourselves up everywhere. We need to be at the top of our game if we want to succeed in this year’s SEC.”

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