A rainy opening night and slippery field for Alabama soccer didn’t stop the Crimson Tide from starting off its 2021-2022 season strong. A 4-0 win over Jacksonville State makes the team’s record 1-0 overall and 11-0 all-time over the Gamecocks.

“I was happy with the mentality that the group came out with and how they approached the game. It would have been easy to overlook Jacksonville State and focus on Florida State, the number one team in the country,” head coach Wes Hart said. “I thought the group showed a lot of maturity by knowing that we have to take it one game at a time.”

 

Photo Courtesy of @AlabamaSoccer on Twitter

Right from the get-go the offensive pressure from Alabama was very apparent. Midfielder Reyna Reyes was playing up high in the middle right next to freshman forward Brooke Steere. Steere played up high in the corner taking tackles and creating pressure for Jacksonville States’ defense.

Pressing so high creates an opportunity for shots on goal and eventually a goal itself. The Crimson Tide had five shots in 10 minutes due to creating scenarios that were born from pressure. The fifth shot of the night was fired right before Alabama scored. An assist from Ashlynn Serepca sent Reyes running into the net to record the first goal of the season for Alabama.

The Crimson Tide continued to push against the Gamecocks’ defense up until the last few seconds of the half. Jacksonville State’s goalkeeper Morgan Lerch made a leaping save to keep Alabama from going up 2-0 … or so she thought. After a set corner kick, midfielder Macy Clem took a touch-step which passed all of the defense to put Alabama up 2-0 and end the half.

A slight delay after the half did not throw the Crimson Tide off its path. The momentum seemed to pick up right where it left off. In the first minute of the second half, Serepca put Alabama up 3-0 and continued to further emphasize he pressure her and her teammates created for the Gamecock defense.

“All preseason we’ve been working on just trying to press together. Knowing when to press and when to set back, that was one of our goals,” Reyes said. “I think that’s what led us to success.”

Alabama’s defense continued to stay strong in the backfield. Graduate student Brooke Bollinger took control in goal for the second half, reminding her players to be open as an option to pass to, both forward and backward. This allowed for her defense to be open and receive passes in order to see the full field and decide where it was best to send the ball to create offensive motion. This step back proved to be beneficial for the Crimson Tide overall.

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With about 20 minutes left, Leah Kunde scored the fourth and final goal of the game just six minutes after she made her college debut. With the continued pressure and a solid defensive wall, Alabama was able to keep Jacksonville State from scoring for the remainder of the game.

Alabama will take on Florida State in Tallahassee on Sunday at noon and will be back in Tuscaloosa on Friday to face Lamar University.

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