Alabama soccer remains undefeated at homeBy Marquis Munson | 09/18/2015 4:49pm
The “I Believe” chants sound loud in the soccer complex.
All three of Alabama's victories have come at home. Coach Wes Hart and the Crimson Tide soccer team will finish off a long four-game home stand this weekend.
“We’ve been getting some pretty big crowds at our games which has been great,” goalkeeper Emily Rusk said. “I actually think it has a lot to do with the women’s national team winning the World Cup this summer. People really rallied behind women’s soccer and I think the excitement has carried over to our season.”
The Crimson Tide has seen large crowds for its first two home games this season. In the season opener on Aug. 23 against the Troy Trojans, the Crimson Tide welcomed 1,575 fans to the Alabama Soccer Complex by defeating the Trojans 1-0. This was the Crimson Tide’s second-largest crowd in program history behind a 2012 game against Maryland, which drew 1,630 fans.
“It was amazing,” forward Emma Welch said. “Coming to Alabama, we know football is big and everything and we accept that. Coming to our very first home soccer game and it being so huge, and the crowd being so into it and loving it, it was a really great feeling.”
The Crimson Tide had another large crowd the following game against the Wake Forest Demon Deacons with 1,077. The game ended in a draw in double overtime.
“I truly believe that it has an impacted on the game,” Hart said. “I think were able to feed off their energy and excitement. So I’m hoping we continue to get large crowds.”
The team had to begin the 2015 season playing four of its first six games on the road, including a three-game road trip against Tennessee Tech, Harvard, and Rhode Island. It lost three of those four games with the other ending in a draw.
After a long weather delay last Friday, the Crimson Tide returned home to begin four consecutive home matches. Alabama opened SEC play against the LSU Tigers with a crowd of over 200 people after weather delayed the game by almost two hours. Despite low attendance, being at home brought magic back to the Crimson Tide as it defeated the Tigers in a double overtime thriller 3-2 with a late game-winning goal from Celia Jimenez Delgado.
“We really appreciated the people that stuck around, and they were awesome with cheering us on, it really helped us to get that win,” Rusk said.
That game also marked the end of Rusk's four-game home scoreless streak. Before the Tiger’s goal by forward Summer Clarke in the 20th minute, Rusk had not allowed a goal at home since Oct. 5, 2014, against the Ole Miss Rebels. Rusk's four-game streak is the first by an Alabama goalkeeper since Kara Gudmens back in 2008.
This past Sunday, Rusk had another home shutout for the Crimson Tide with a victory against Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles 1-0.
“We’ve spent a lot of time working on team defending so it’s a really great feeling knowing that it’s getting us results,” Rusk said. “It’s pretty reassuring to know that we make it pretty difficult for other teams to score.”
This weekend, the Crimson Tide will finish its four-game home stand against the undefeated Kentucky Wildcats on Friday and the Jacksonville State Gamecocks on Sunday. Opening kick for both games is at 7 p.m. CT.