TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – As nice as Alabama Crimson Tide soccer has been this season, it’s nonetheless in uncharted waters.
On Friday, the Southeastern Convention common season champions will play the primary Elite Eight sport in program historical past after profitable their first Candy 16 sport in program historical past. Each occasions occurred with Alabama being the No. 1 seed within the NCAA Match, one other first in program historical past.
Ahead Riley Mattingly Parker (17 targets), midfielder Felicia Knox (20 assists) and guard McKinley Crone (10 shutouts) have their names etched into Alabama’s soccer file books. The Crimson Tide practically swept the person SEC awards, with Wes Hart additionally named the league’s Coach of the 12 months.
Conquering the SEC was one factor. Now the duty is actually to do the identical towards the game’s long-established premier league, the Athletic Coast Convention.
It nonetheless has 5 groups nonetheless alive within the match, all vying for locations within the School Cup.
Furthermore, they’re all established among the many elite, having skilled many playoffs. That features Alabama’s subsequent crew on the way in which, Duke, with the quarterfinals to be performed Friday at 6 p.m.
The Blue Devils come to Tuscaloosa because the No. 2 seed within the area, slightly below Alabama, and with a 15-4-3 file. It is also Duke’s third straight yr within the Elite Eight and sixth time within the final eight years.
The opposite quarterfinals will likely be performed on Saturday, with Arkansas at Florida State, North Carolina at Notre Dame and Virginia at UCLA.
It was at Florida State that Hart spent two seasons (2013-14) as an assistant coach and helped lead the Seminoles’ first nationwide championship season in 2014.
“Just a little,” Hart mentioned when requested if he had considered enjoying towards Florida State within the School Cup. “However like I mentioned, all yr we centered on one sport at a time. I hadn’t even watched Duke till we received our final sport. So our full consideration is on Duke and the way we’ll beat Duke. . Hopefully if we will get previous Duke then we will begin specializing in that.”
In contrast to the model of play of earlier opponents, Hart is trying ahead to taking up a program that will likely be extra aggressive.
“They are not simply going to take a seat again and absorb the strain,” he mentioned. “It is a crew that may exit and play.”
Duke has Michelle Cooper, the ACC Offensive Participant of the 12 months who’s tied with Parker with 17 targets this season for fifth within the nation.
She is by far the most important scoring menace Alabama has confronted up to now within the match.
“Michelle Cooper goes to be a handful,” defender Gessica Skorka mentioned. “I belief our protection and I do know we’ll give him his cash’s value.”
Quite the opposite, Alabama is likely to be fortunate that Duke is the ACC crew they face at this stage of the match. Notre Dame and Florida State are additionally the No. 1 seeds, and North Carolina is tied for the common season title.
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It is not an affront to a Duke program that was a nationwide runner-up in 2011 and 2015; moderately, it speaks to the dominance of different ACC packages since girls’s soccer grew to become an official Division I sport in 1982.
Much like how faculty soccer goes by way of the SEC, girls’s soccer goes by way of the ACC. Of the previous 40 School Cups, the ACC has solely missed As soon as, together with 16 consecutive appearances. Moreover, the convention has 4 straight nationwide championship appearances, highlighted by two Florida State titles in 2018 and 2021.
It is a plethora of information and accomplishments, however the truth is that along with the take a look at Alabama faces right here on this closing house sport, it can probably solely be capable to play ACC groups on remainder of the way in which.
- Match seed Florida State made its fifth straight Elite Eight.
- Notre Dame, seeded No. 1, is on a 12-game profitable streak and hasn’t conceded a aim within the match.
- 2-seeded North Carolina is making its sixteenth journey to the Elite Eight since 2001. The Tar Heels even have 21 of 27 nationwide titles amongst ACC colleges.
- Virginia, seeded No. 3, is trying to play in its second College Cup in three seasons.
It is a tall order for Alabama to fulfill the ladies’s soccer problem, however Parker and the crew have some momentum:
The final time Alabama confronted an ACC opponent, they beat Clemson 3-0
The final time the Crimson Tide confronted an ACC crew within the NCAA Match, they received (Clemson 1-0 in 2021).
The final time Alabama misplaced to an ACC crew was a 1-0 loss to Miami early within the season.
Are these two groups of the caliber of Florida State and North Carolina? No, and that does not erase the 4-0 loss to the Seminoles final season.
However latest success towards arguably one of the best convention in girls’s soccer, mixed with a crew acting at an all-time excessive, counts for one thing. And if there is a crew to make such a run, it is the 2022 version of Alabama soccer.
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Find out how to watch: Duke Girls’s Soccer at Alabama
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