By Caroline Gazzara | Staff Reporter
Despite defeating UAB in the 87th minute of Sunday’s game, the Alabama soccer team has a long road ahead as it kicks off the conference season Friday against Florida.
The Crimson Tide, currently 2-5, will travel to Gainesville, Fla., to play the Gators. Last season, Alabama won 1-0 against Florida late in October. Head coach Todd Bramble said the team should feed off of last year’s win.
“Our players should be able to take some confidence [from last season’s win against Florida],” Bramble said. “It’s going to be different because last year we were able to play them at home, and this year obviously we’re at their place for the opening game of SEC play. It’s going to be a tough challenge, but our players should feel good about our chances.”
Compared to last season’s start, Bramble said this could be a good sign.
“At this point, I would say if it works in reverse, then I would be a happy man,” Bramble said. “We lost six out of our seven last year, and we won a bunch in the early part of the season, so if this season is reversed, then I would be okay with that.”
Senior Molly Atherton also said the rough start could be the push the team needs for the rest of the season.
“Honestly, I think it will be beneficial to us. We’ve always said ‘it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish,’ and if we can focus on doing the right things now to be successful, I think we will be successful in the SECs,” Atherton said.
In the past five seasons, the Crimson Tide has had two losing seasons, one winning season and two even seasons. The 2011-12 season was the only breakthrough. Alabama went on to Miami in the NCAA tournament but lost in double overtime.
Florida’s record currently stands at 6-2-1. The Gators are coming off a double-overtime tie against the University of South Florida, which interrupted the Gators’ four-game winning streak.
Alabama is currently ranked last in the SEC, while Florida is No. 4 in the conference. South Carolina, Arkansas and Georgia lead the pack going into this weekend’s conference opener. Alabama meets Georgia and South Carolina in October, but will not meet Arkansas this season.
To prepare for the rest of the season, Atherton said the team is focusing on finishing and details. Atherton also said her team was ready for the upcoming conference games and that the UAB game helped prepare them.
“[Sunday’s game] was a really big boost to our confidence, especially seeing the ball go back into the net in four games,” Atherton said. “It’s obviously going to give us a big boost. We’re just ready for the SECs. It’s a completely new season, a fresh start.”