Tide looks to bounce back

Tide looks to bounce back

UA Athletics

Alex Price (5) fights for the ball against a Memphis defender. UA Athletics

Caroline Gazzara

The Alabama soccer team opened the season with one objective in mind: improve on last year’s results. Though it split last weekend’s games to Kennesaw State and Memphis, the Crimson Tide is confident about the season going forward.

Alabama (1-1) will face back-to-back road games in Tennessee this weekend against Austin Peay State and Middle Tennessee. Losing to Memphis may have dashed some of the team’s spirits, but coach Todd Bramble said the girls are excited about this weekend.

“I think [our confidence,] it’s very high,” Bramble said. “I know we’re disappointed that we lost the game to Memphis, but I still think that this team has a deep belief that we’ve got all the ingredients to have a really great season.”

This will be the first away weekend for Alabama. Last season, Alabama lost seven out of nine away games, three of them to conference teams. Bramble said this weekend will be a vital demonstration of how the team reacts on the road.

“It’s tough to win on the road,” Bramble said. “It’s especially tough to win on the road in our conference so this just gives us the opportunity to have a little extended road trip and make sure the players are understanding what our expectations are as a staff. So from that standpoint, this is an important weekend and an important trip.”

Forward Pia Rijsdijk will not play this weekend. The senior missed Sunday’s match and this week’s practices due to family matters. She will meet the team in Tennessee, but will not be starting.

Despite Rijsdijk missing this week’s practices, the team has been focusing on improving the small details on both sides of the ball. Defensively, Bramble said they were working on becoming tighter and more organized and placed a special emphasis on their penalty kicks.

Alabama previously faced Austin Peay last year for an exhibition match and last met Middle Tennessee in 2010.

The Crimson Tide will be staying in Nashville, Tennessee, this weekend, a midpoint between the matches. Bramble said the team is looking forward to spending time together.

“It’s a group that seems to be really close and enjoy each other’s company,” Bramble said. “We get to get away and spend some quality time together. We get to go play two good opponents and experience Nashville a little bit. So everybody is excited about the trip ahead.”