Alabama soccer’s (2-5-2) season came to an end Friday night in the opening match of the SEC Tournament with a 2-0 loss to the LSU Tigers (1-6-2). The loss came against the lowest-ranking team entering the conference tournament. LSU also entered the match winless, having only led in a game for nine minutes throughout the duration of the regular season.
Friday night’s shutout was the third of the season for Alabama and its second within the past three games. But Alabama had its chances to score. It tallied 21 shots, 10 shots on target and 12 corner kicks, which were all season-highs. Alabama led LSU in all three of these categories, but LSU’s freshman goalkeeper Grace McClellan put on a show in Orange Beach, collecting 10 saves on the night.
Both of LSU’s goals came from an unlikely source: redshirt freshman Taylor Dobles. Dobles had only had one goal entering the match. Both of Dobles goals on Friday were playable. Alabama couldn’t clear the ball in the 13th minute, allowing Dobles to score. Her second goal, in the 88th minute, slid under a diving junior goalkeeper Emily Crone.
The game also served as a final farewell to the team’s departing seniors, among them star forward Casey Wertz and midfielder Taylor Morgan, who expressed her disappointment and gratitude on Twitter after the game.
Not sure where life will take you @taylormorgz but I know you’ll be successful in whatever you do. Thank you for the impact you had on this program and me personally. I’m gonna miss you! https://t.co/M3mfb4YCIn
— Wes Hart (@UACoachHart) November 14, 2020
Overall, there was a lot to take away from this season:
The defense broke down.
Throughout the course of the season Crone found herself in many one-on-one situations, which were made possible due to miscommunication and breaks from the Alabama defense. Crone shined in a few of these situations against Tennessee and Auburn. But one-on-one situations typically favor the defense, and that showed in a handful of Alabama’s games: Mississippi State, Florida, Arkansas and Texas A&M. Working on limiting defensive breaks will be a point of emphasis when Alabama prepares for next season.
Fifteen goals were scored against the Crimson Tide in the 2020 season, but a haunting statistic is that seven of these goals came in the last 15 minutes of the game. A few of these goals tie back defensive breaks, which led to several one-on-one situations. A key for Alabama in the offseason is to build its stamina and hone its staying power in those final minutes. A deeper defensive roster will be vital to keeping players’ legs fresh next season, but it’s up to the players to show the coaching staff that they’ll make a positive impact.
At the season’s start, there were three key players to keep an eye out for: junior forward Riley Mattingly, sophomore midfielder and defender Reyna Reyes and Wertz. Mattingly was named to the second team All-SEC but did not score a goal after Alabama’s opening match against Tennessee. Both Reyes and Wertz did not score a goal this season. The team’s main offensive components must find a way to score goals throughout the entirety of the season in order to build consistency next season.
A freshman made an impact.
Freshman midfielder Felicia Knox was awarded a spot on the All-SEC Freshman Team and rightfully deserved it. She scored two goals, had one assist and had 12 shots on the season. Knox became more comfortable on the field this season, as she increased her time of possession and created more scoring opportunities. Knox will be a player to look out for next season.