Soccer tames No. 18 Clemson again in 3-0 win


Courtesy of UA Athletics

The Alabama soccer team celebrates with their fans following the Crimson Tide’s 3-0 win over the No. 18 Clemson Tigers on Aug. 28 at the Alabama Soccer Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

The much-anticipated NCAA tournament rematch between the Alabama Crimson Tide and Clemson Tigers yielded a strong crowd and a 3-0 win for the Crimson Tide. 

Riley Mattingly Parker scored her first of two goals in the match in the 11th minute on a header assisted by Felicia Knox. One minute earlier, an offside call negated a score, but Alabama got it back almost before Clemson could process the sequence. 

Alabama soccer and an early goal. It’s been a heck of a pairing in the season so far. 

From there, the Crimson Tide kept pace with the Tigers, but entered halftime still up 1-0 the final score of the 2021 NCAA tournament matchup. 

“Had a little bit of a lull right after we scored the goal,” head coach Wes Hart said. “We almost looked a little bit content. A year ago, when we played them in the NCAA tournament, we took that 1-0 lead and then hung on for dear life in the second half.” 

“The message at halftime was […] we do not just want to kind of hang on and try to eke this win out. We wanted to keep attacking … that was kind of our mentality of how we wanted to finish the game off.” 

The second half was a battle for several minutes. Alabama controlled territory, but Clemson strung together offense and had some looks of its own. In the 53rd minute, Alabama goalkeeper McKinley Crone made a leaping save which protected the Crimson Tide lead.  

That was Clemson’s best look of the match. 

Alabama extended the lead to 2-0 with freshman forward Gianna Paul’s first collegiate goal in the 72nd minute.  

“It could not have been better, under the lights, such a big crowd, against a great team … I’m just honored,” Paul said. 

“I was super happy for her [Paul],” Hart said. “I think that’s a huge goal for her because I think they’re going to start pouring in right now.” 

The final nail in the coffin came in the 79th minute when Mattingly Parker scored her second goal.  

She had praise for Paul and the chemistry of the group. 

“[Gianna] has been my ride-or-die … we play so well together I feel like we complement each other in great ways … The chemistry between the team is great, so they make me look good,” Mattingly Parker said. 

“We knocked them out of the NCAA tournament last year, so we knew that they were going to be fired up for this game … we wanted to win by more than one goal, we wanted to show everyone we can be a top-25 team too,” she said.

Alabama doubled up Clemson in shots, 20-10, with seven shots on goal compared to Clemson’s three. Clemson had four corner kicks to the Crimson Tide’s two. 

The crowd packed out the pitch for the game, something Hart, Mattingly Parker and Paul were all happy with. 

“This is my fifth year here, I haven’t seen anything better,” Mattingly Parker said. 

“Biggest crowd I’ve ever played [for],” Paul said. 

“To add that extra boost from the crowd was incredible and I can’t thank them enough for the energy they provided,” Hart said. 

Alabama’s next test will be a big one, too. One NCAA tournament rematch will be followed by another. No. 9 Brigham Young University, which beat the Crimson Tide in the 2021 NCAA Tournament, awaits in Provo, Utah.  

That game is set for Thursday, Sept. 1 at 8 p.m. CT.

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