Sunshine State Sunday: Soccer faces Miami in second regular season game

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

After a definitive 4-0 win against Florida Atlantic to open the regular season on Friday, the Alabama soccer team will conclude its Florida campaign against Miami on Sunday. 

Since weather pushed the bulk of the season-opening match back from Thursday night to Friday, the Miami game will be played on a turnaround of just over 48 hours for Alabama. 

Against Florida Atlantic, the Crimson Tide scored three of their four goals in a span of less than 20 minutes and recorded nine shots on goal. The delay did not seem to have an adverse effect on the group.  

Four different players scored: Riley Mattingly Parker, Marianna Annest, Kate Henderson and Riley Tanner. The first goal, Mattingly Parker’s, came in the opening minute of play.  

The offensive side controlled the possession battle and capitalized on lapses in the Florida Atlantic defense. Two of the four goals scored came in the first half, one in the first minute and one in the final minute. 

Defensively, Alabama remained strong during the contest, allowing the Owls just two shots on goal, which were saved by goalkeeper McKinley Crone.  

The Crimson Tide has now won both its matches this season, the season opener and the exhibition match. The victories were won by a combined margin of 7-1. 

Miami is coming off a tough 2021 season in which it managed just four wins. Five of the team’s losses came by one goal. To open the 2022 season, they took on the Mississippi State Bulldogs and the teams battled to a scoreless draw.  

That leaves the Hurricanes without a win in their last seven regular season contests. 

Though not every game is as offensively stagnant as the one Florida Atlantic played against Alabama, the Crimson Tide will need to overwhelm the Hurricanes on the attacking front.  

It is encouraging that so many players were part of the action on Friday, and a number of those players had great success across both fall 2022 showings. Including the exhibition, Riley Mattingly Parker has scored three goals and Kate Henderson has two. 

“We were able to attack in a variety of ways … We had some good spells of sustained possession and territory throughout,” head coach Wes Hart said. 

In the assists category, multiple Alabama players got in on the fun.  

Freshman forward Gianna Paul was one of them, and she was complimented on her speed by Hart, who before the game called her “a nightmare for teams to defend.”  

The offensive opportunities would not be as affluent without solid defense, and that will need to be maintained to further polish Alabama’s win column. Florida Atlantic had only five shots in the opening matchup.  

Veteran goalkeeper Crone logged the shutout. 

For Alabama, stretching any leads will also be a factor in the match. A team losing many of its competitions by a thin margin is one that competes with tenacity and that cannot be written off.  

Hart said that despite the turnaround, his team should be rested because playing time in the opener was spread out. 

The Crimson Tide will need to match the intensity of the hungry Hurricanes team, who needs a win. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m. CT on Sunday on ESPN+.

Questions or comments? Email Austin Hannon (Sports Editor) at [email protected]