Home Sweet Home: Soccer back in Tuscaloosa to take on Southern Miss

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

The Alabama soccer team split its first two games of the regular season. They will now return to Tuscaloosa to play the first home match of the regular season against The University of Southern Mississippi on Thursday night. 

The Crimson Tide was defeated 1-0 by Miami on their most recent outing despite outshooting the Hurricanes 22-3. 

Alabama has played one game in Tuscaloosa in 2022 the exhibition win over Vanderbilt.  

Thursday’s contest kicks off a stretch of two straight home showings. 

The season opener was a massive success for the Crimson Tide. The 4-0 win over Florida Atlantic was an ideal way to start the campaign, even after a weather delay forced an overnight stoppage of play. 

In the Miami match, Alabama had trouble getting looks at the net. The offensive numbers were strong but did not have the scores to back them up. 

Despite five players equaling the number of shots the entire Miami team took in the second half, none could capitalize.  

Southern Miss has only played one match in the 2022 regular season, traveling to Auburn to take on the Crimson Tide’s bitter rivals. That match went perhaps less than according to plan as the Tigers put on a clinic in a 9-0 rout. 

The Golden Eagles were limited to only two shots on goal in the match. 

In 2021, Southern Miss went 10-4-3, losing just one conference match. Despite that, the team did not obtain an NCAA Tournament berth after losing in the Conference USA championship final.  

The Crimson Tide won a 3-2 battle against the Golden Eagles in 2021 that took two overtimes to settle. Midfielder Felicia Knox scored the winning goal in the 107th minute.  

Though both teams enter Thursday coming off of a loss, Southern Miss is licking its wounds while Alabama believes it should have won its most recent game. 

Knox was one of the players with multiple shots in the contest against Miami.  

The Crimson Tide defense showed what it was capable of in Coral Gables, keeping the team in striking distance and adjusting well when on its heels.  

The experience of the group means that Alabama should be well equipped to handle a tough loss. The Crimson Tide already responded positively to the delay in Boca Raton and fought to the last minute against Miami. 

These traits are to be expected from a team returning all its starters and four-fifths of the overall roster from 2021. 

The Golden Eagles’ roster, meanwhile, consists of mostly freshman and sophomore players. Partly for this reason, losing as badly as they did in their opener is going to sting for this unit. Some of that arguably could carry over into the match on Thursday.  

The pace of offensive production needs to continue for Alabama to rebound in the home opener. Scores must complement the numbers, which was not the case against Miami.  

With as many players taking shots as there were on Sunday, conversions are a must. Getting a lead and keeping it will go a long way in all phases of the game. 

The offensive side must also command the possession battle, maintaining long stretches in Southern Miss’ half of the pitch. 

Spreading the ball around will be important, not only to create opportunities but also to throw off the opposing defense. Experience will matter in a match like this. 

For the defense, continued resilience is the key. Staying in front of the ball and mobilizing when the Golden Eagles mount attacks will be vital. This has been a strength on the defensive side in the early moments of the campaign. 

Reliability in the net is also something the Crimson Tide possesses, in the form of goalkeeper McKinley Crone.  

The match will kick off Thursday at 6 p.m. CT on SEC Network+.

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