Preview | It’s crunch time for women’s soccer

Alabama will need more than a home-field advantage when they take on the Aggies this Friday. Can they step up to the challenge?

Alabama women’s soccer (1-3-2) will step foot on its home turf one last time for the 2020 season Friday night, Oct. 30, against the No. 8 Texas A&M Aggies (4-1).

The program and fans will also use this night to celebrate its seniors: Brynn Martin, Taylor Morgan, Casey Wertz, Kaley Verpaele and Gigi Schorr.

Texas A&M heads into Tuscaloosa ranked third in the conference with 12 points. The team was initially picked to finish third at the start of the season, according to the SEC Preseason Coaches Poll. The Aggies’ lone loss came to the No.7 Arkansas Razorbacks, who sit at the top of the conference with 15 points, and who Alabama also fell to in a double-overtime 2-1 loss. 

Alabama has had trouble finding the back of the net this season. It has only had two multi-goal games coming in its opening season win over Tennessee, 3-1, and last week’s tie against Louisiana State University, 3-3. The team is currently tied for 11th place in the conference with five points, when it was expected to finish in sixth place.

But the defensive talent the Alabama offense will face this Friday in Texas A&M only looks to get better. Three of the five Aggies named to the SEC Preseason Watch List are defenders: Macie Kolb, Jimena Lopez and Katie Smith. Kolb, Lopez and Smith have only allowed goals five games, which averages less than a goal scored per game by opponents. Two of the four goals given up came against Arkansas. 

The Alabama offense has been able to apply pressure on both the left and right wings of the field, but in order to consistently be productive, they must also apply pressure through the middle. Most of Alabama’s offensive pressure in the middle tends to cross the ball to junior Riley Mattingly, in hopes that Mattingly will head it in for a goal. But Mattingly has yet to deliver and has not scored since her two-goal performance against Tennessee in the season opener. 

Sophomore midfielder Reyna Reyes must also find a way to create havoc in the middle. Despite having yet to score a goal this season and only tallying one assist, Reyes has potential. She made three goals last season, which allowed her to be named to the First-Team All-SEC team in 2019. 

Alabama has been haunted by opponents’ second-half comebacks this season, which has led to five consecutive games without a win. This five-game stretch started with a 1-1 tie against Mississippi State on the road with the Bulldogs’ goal coming in the last second of the game due to a defensive break. The Crimson Tide has not recovered since the game and must find a way to let its past go in order to try and work its way up the standings before the SEC Tournament.

Kickoff between the Crimson Tide and Aggies is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Alabama Soccer Complex and will air on SEC Network+.