Repeat or Revenge: Soccer takes on No. 18 Clemson in crucial rematch

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

The first ranked opponent for the Alabama soccer team is here and it’s a big one. 

The No. 18 Clemson University Tigers (2-0-1) will travel to Tuscaloosa on Sunday for a rematch of the first NCAA tournament win in Alabama program history, which took place last season.  

The Crimson Tide (2-1-0) snatched a 1-0 victory in Death Valley by doing something it’s already showing it can carry into this season — scoring in a match’s opening minutes. 

Alabama is days removed from a 2-0 win over The University of Southern Mississippi to open the slate of 2022 home contests. The team now faces a back-to-back gauntlet of its two 2021 NCAA tournament opponents, starting with the Clemson Tigers. 

In the matchup with the Golden Eagles, the Crimson Tide had 32 shots and continued to overwhelm their opponents with pressure on the attacking front, something that has been an early-season theme. The season-high number of shots came one match after a 22-shot day in the losing effort against Miami — 23 of them were in the second half. 

Alabama has also challenged other teams on defense, communicating well and staying on the ball. Goalkeeper McKinley Crone saved both shots on goal in the Southern Miss match. The second goal scored by Alabama came about because of a sudden possession change forced by the high-pressure defense. 

Experience has been a key on both sides of the ball and will be a major factor when facing a familiar opponent. The importance of this trait in the Alabama team is magnified by the fact that Clemson is going to remember getting knocked out on its home turf last fall. 

The Tigers’ two wins are by a combined margin of 11-1. They drew with Texas A&M in the season opener before notching consecutive wins over Campbell and Western Carolina. Their season-high in goals in a single match is six, while Alabama’s is four. 

In 2021, Clemson went 12-7-1 on the strength of a 7-2 start to the regular season. The Tigers lost their top-25 spot one match before meeting with the Crimson Tide. 

Midfielder Allie Berk scored the winning goal in just the fourth minute of the match. 

“Clemson is a quality side,” Alabama head coach Wes Hart said. “For us, we’ve had this game circled on our calendar.” 

“That type of win can be huge moving forward when we’re looking at NCAA selection and stuff like that. I believe we’re going to be ready,” Hart added. “I think [the players] know what’s at stake.” 

Macy Clem, who scored the winner against Southern Miss, said she is excited for the match. 

“We just need to work together, press really hard, have a lot of energy, and I think we can do really well against them,” Clem said. 

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

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