Staying busy: Soccer faces Utah after big win against BYU

Will Miller, Staff Reporter

It was an ideal start to the journey through Utah for the Alabama soccer team. On Thursday night, the Crimson Tide claimed a 3-2 victory over No. 6 Brigham Young University, and on Sunday, they will take on the Utah Utes in Salt Lake City. 

The victory over BYU was Alabama’s third consecutive win and second straight over a ranked foe. Through five contests, the Crimson Tide’s record sits at 4-1. The team has eclipsed its 2021 road wins mark and is 2-1 outside of Tuscaloosa. 

The three goals against BYU were all unanswered and proved to be enough to win. Strong defense propelled the Crimson Tide and complemented the first-half offensive explosion. 

Forward Riley Mattingly Parker has now scored four goals this season. Fellow forward Gianna Paul has a goal in two straight matches one each against Clemson and BYU. After her first career goal against Clemson, head coach Wes Hart said he thinks the goals are “gonna start pouring in” for Paul. 

Goalkeeper McKinley Crone set a season-high with seven saves in a great effort against the Cougars.  

The Utes are 3-1-1 this season. The season opener was a draw with Portland, followed by three wins in a row. Utah lost Thursday’s match against Cal State Fullerton, 1-0, after giving one up in the 89th minute. 

Two of their three wins this fall have been shutouts. Alabama has three shutout wins to its name: Florida Atlantic, Southern Miss and Clemson.  

It goes without saying that holding a ranked team off the board, particularly when said team is trying to get one back on you, is great for the players’ confidence. That confidence will have only increased following Thursday’s win. 

The defensive side of the ball stepped up big against BYU, but this Crimson Tide team has been good at scoring the first goal, something it failed to do against the Cougars. To be able to return to that against the Utes would allow Alabama to play a different type of game, as fighting from behind on the road is not any team’s definition of ideal. 

Separation on the scoreboard is also important with a two-goal lead, Alabama didn’t have to shift to crisis mode when BYU scored to make it 3-2 with less than 10 minutes to play. The two previous Crimson Tide wins have been by scores of 2-0 and 3-0, respectively. 

Hart mentioned that the team’s priority after evaluating the BYU game was “defending [their] tails off,” which will have to translate into the Utah contest. The offense needs to get out in front, and also needs to maintain and extend leads. This, along with the experience this group already has, is key to winning on the road again. 

Kickoff for the match at Ute Field is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 4 at 7 p.m. CT on the Pac 12 Network.

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