Soccer takes 3-1 win in conference exhibition against Vanderbilt


Courtesy of UA Athletics

Alabama forward Riley Mattingly Parker (10) and midfielder Felicia Knox (8) celebrate with fans following the Crimson Tide’s 3-1 exhibition victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores on August 13 at the Alabama Soccer Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

Fresh off the first NCAA Tournament win in program history and in anticipation of a road trip to open the regular season, the Alabama soccer team opened its 2022 season with a 3-1 exhibition victory over SEC foe Vanderbilt.  

The Crimson Tide scored twice in the first half en route to the win. 

A unit returning all its starters from the 2021 season showed its experience, making it tough on the Commodores to attack and score while throwing them off their defensive game and creating scoring opportunities on offense.  

Alabama had six shots on goal (11 total) to Vanderbilt’s two (five total). The team’s ball movement was “some of the best possession we’ve had at least in the past year,” according to Crimson Tide forward Riley Mattingly Parker. 

Mattingly Parker scored two goals in the game, both assisted by forward Gianna Paul. She described her second and said it was “probably one of my favorite goals.” Defender Gessica Skorka also assisted on the second goal. 

Head coach Wes Hart praised Paul’s speed. 

“I’m sure you saw Gianna Paul’s speed up top,” Hart said. “She’s going to be frightening for teams to defend.”  

The first goal of the game, and the season, was scored in the 11th minute by Kate Henderson. She was assisted by Skorka, and the score followed a Vanderbilt miss.  

Senior goalkeeper McKinley Crone collected one save during the first half. She played the entire game, while Vanderbilt replaced their starting goalkeeper Sara Wojdelko with Kate Devine in the second half. Devine recorded three saves.  

Mattingly Parker’s first goal came in the 24th minute. Her second came in the 51st.  

“[We want to] get better at what we do best,” Mattingly Parker said. “The true test is the first game. One thing I learned is that we can be really dangerous behind teams.” 

“It’s going to be an exciting season,” Mattingly Parker added. 

The only Vanderbilt score came in the 85th minute when the Commodores got one behind Crone to break the shutout.  

Hart said he thought the team got a bit sloppy in the final stages of the game.  

“I think we could have killed the game off a little bit better,” Hart said. “We don’t want possession in our half of the field.  

The ball movement and defense were strong for the Crimson Tide for much of the game. 

“We wanted out of the gate to play a tough game,” Hart said. “For us to come out and get three goals against a team like Vanderbilt, we’re very excited.” 

Alabama’s 11 shots to Vanderbilt’s five accompanied more corner kicks, shots on goal and fewer fouls.  

The opening game of the regular season is set for Thursday, Aug. 18 against Florida Atlantic, followed by an Aug. 21 game against Miami. 

“[The win] has got to give us confidence,” Hart said. “Heading into the first week, I’m very excited. I think we reaffirmed what we hoped we’d be.”