Soccer sweeps weekend's matches to begin SEC schedule

The Alabama Crimson Tide soccer team upset Vanderbilt and Tennessee over the weekend, winning both matches. Alabama (4-6, 2-1 SEC) won 5-2 Friday against Vanderbilt and 4-2 against Tennessee Sunday.

Alabama surprised both teams over the weekend by coming out strong and determined in the first half of both games. Previously, the Crimson Tide was struggling getting the ball into the back of the net but has since changed its tactics. Coach Todd Bramble said the change boosted the team’s confidence.

“More than anything, I think it was a mental thing for the team to see some balls finally going in,” Bramble said. “We’ve created a ton of chances. [From] a psychological standpoint and a confidence standpoint, I hope it’s going to help.”

During the Vanderbilt game, the Crimson Tide scored three goals in the first half, followed by the final two goals in the second half. This was the first time in eight years Alabama scored more than four goals in a game.

Junior Laura Lee Smith scored two of the five goals during the Vanderbilt game. Smith said the first-half momentum really fueled the team to success.

“It totally changes everything going into halftime,” Smith said. “When you go into halftime with a lead instead of a tie, you go in not trying to critique yourself. It’s just a positive feeling.”

After Friday night’s victory against Vanderbilt, Alabama came into the Tennessee game ready for action. Using the same starting lineup as before, the Crimson Tide powered through the first half, scoring three goals. Though the team let two Tennessee goals slip by early in the second half, senior Kendall Khanna scored the final goal of the game.

“It was important [to win], from a conference standpoint,” Bramble said. “We haven’t really looked back from the non-conference part of the season. We’re really trying to stay focused in the present. Our best hope for going forward is to stay positive and optimistic.”

The Crimson Tide had 27 total shots for this weekend. Previously, Alabama’s shot percentage was .028. After this weekend, the percentage rose to .093. The Crimson Tide scored more goals during this weekend than it has in the past eight games.

With three conference games under its belt, the Crimson Tide will travel to Georgia this weekend to play the Bulldogs. After Friday’s game, Alabama will play LSU at home Sunday.

“Georgia is off to a fantastic start. They’ve had a really great season,” Bramble said. “They’re really hot right now, and they get great crowds, so it’s a fun place to play. We need to be mentally and emotionally tough to go up there this weekend.”

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