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

Soccer’s new formation continues to pay off during spring


Alabama’s soccer team will have a different look next year in several key areas. Coach Wes Hart has made some big changes going into this spring season that appear to be paying off. 

His implementation of a new three-back system has seen great success so far, with Alabama maintaining the midfield for larger portions of the game and really controlling the tempo.

“We solidified a really consistent back three,” goalkeeper Alex Plavin said. “That’s why we’ve been so strong defensively and not given up many opportunities for the opposing team.”

The formation change has worked to this point in the spring. The Crimson Tide is undefeated, posting a 2-0-1 record with the lone draw coming against Clemson on March 3. The two wins came in convincing style, as Alabama kept two clean sheets in its 2-0 defeat of Memphis to open the season, along with the 3-0 thrashing of Alabama’s in-state rival, Samford.

For Plavin, this spring season has served as a time for the team to adjust to having her between the sticks. Taking over for the graduating Kat Stratton, Plavin has made a number of impressive saves already and is rapidly gaining the trust of those around her. Her remaining a constant voice in the back will be crucial to the defensive success of Alabama going forward.

Many of the returning players have begun to find their own rhythm as the season has progressed, with Taylor Morgan and Christina Maartensson effectively dominating the midfield. Freshman forward Lily Truong has also gotten off to a terrific start this campaign, illustrating the depth to which this team can play.

The spring season is about experimentation and getting younger players some collegiate minutes under the belts, but this spring has offered a different opportunity: a chance to get key players back on the field that have been sidelined due to injury.

Tori Gann, a rising senior midfielder, sat out the entirety of her junior season with a torn ACL. She has been using this spring season to test her fitness and to gain a bit of trust back in her knee as well as understand her role in this new formation. She has been putting extra time into her study in the film room, but putting that knowledge to the test has been critical to her rehabilitation from her devastating injury last summer.

Given Hart’s new three-back formation, and Gann’s position as an outside midfielder, she is asked to put even more strain on her knee than the average player, often making 80-yard sprints upwards of 20 times per half.

Though the minutes mean more than the results in the spring, Hart and the Crimson Tide will hope to remain undefeated as they welcome UAB to town on Friday night. UAB is a team that presents a singular challenge. It too is in the midst of a formation overhaul.

“Every spring game is a surprise,” senior forward Abbie Boswell said. “UAB’s style of play is so different from anyone we’ve played so far.”

The Blazers finished their 2017 season with a 13-4-3 record, losing out to Florida Atlantic University in the Conference USA Championship. This is a team that is capable of pressuring the Crimson Tide and pouring on goals if Alabama doesn’t show up from the start.

“We never want to discredit any of our opponents,” Gann said. “We approach every game the same way, stick to our own game plan.”

Gann says Hart is a coach that emphasizes that his players never underestimate, but certainly never overestimate any of their opponents. This game should provide a terrific test of the adaptability of Hart’s squad as well as prepare for the final big game of the spring season, a road trip to Tallahassee to take on Florida State.

“They’re definitely a force to be reckoned with,” said Plavin. “It’s a really great opportunity to see how we adapt to their new style of play.”

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