Soccer falls in SEC Tournament quarterfinal


CW / Joe Will Field

Alabama soccer fell to No. 2 seed Vanderbilt 2-1 in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals on Tuesday.

After losing to the Commodores last Thursday on a golden goal in double overtime, the Crimson Tide was able to once again keep it close, but unable to capitalize on multiple scoring opportunities.

“Congrats to Vanderbilt for their win today,” coach Wes Hart said. “They are a good team. They are stingy defensively and do not give you many looks. Combine that with some very athletic attackers and it wouldn’t surprise me if they made a deep run postseason.”

While Alabama is now out of the SEC Tournament, its NCAA hopes are still intact. The Crimson Tide will now wait for Nov. 11, when the bracket for the tournament will be announced.

Alabama started off sluggish, with Vanderbilt maintaining the majority of offensive control. The Commodores scored the first goal of the game in the 13th minute, with redshirt sophomore forward Haley Hopkins knocking the the goal, assisted by junior forward Madison Elwell.

The Crimson Tide was unable to respond and entered the locker room trailing by one.

Alabama emerged from the locker room looking more like its usual self, maintaining possession and getting several scoring opportunities. However, Hopkins scored again in the 75th minute, giving the Commodores a two-goal lead.

With three minutes left to play, the Crimson Tide was able to finally get on the board, with senior defender Nealy Martin kicking the ball into the back of the net, assisted by freshman midfielder Serena Pham.

The Crimson Tide was unable to complete the comeback, and the Commodores advanced to the semifinals with the 2-1 victory.

“I’m incredibly proud of our team, not just for the effort and fight today, but for what we’ve done all season long,” Hart said. “We’ve grown a tremendous amount in the last year and all signs point to a bright future for this program.”

In the loss, Alabama outshot Vanderbilt 10-8, and created opportunities with six corners opposed to the Commodores’ three. Martin led the Crimson Tide with three shots and scored Alabama’s lone goal of the game.

Freshman goalkeeper A.J. Crooks played the full game for the Crimson Tide, allowing two goals and recording two saves.

For Vanderbilt, Hopkins scored both of the team’s goals and led the team in shots with four. Three of those shots were on goal.

In the net, Vanderbilt split the goalkeeper position between seniors Lauren Demarchi and Taiana Tolleson. Demarchi had no saves and no goals allowed, while Tolleson allowed the only goal of the game and had one save.

Up next, Alabama must wait until the NCAA Tournament field is announced on Nov. 11. If the Crimson Tide is selected, the first round is scheduled for Nov. 15-17, and the location for the match will be determined by Alabama’s seeding.

“We will wait and see if the NCAA selection committee thinks we’ve done enough to earn a bid to the tournament,” Hart said. “There’s not a doubt in my mind that we are good enough to be there.”