Stratton, Alexander lead UA soccer's defenseBy Matthew Speakman | 08/31/2016 10:39pm
CW / Jake Stevens
The anchor of a good soccer defense has to be a strong goalkeeper.
Alabama junior Kat Stratton prides herself in being the last line of defense for the Crimson Tide and knows it is her job to stop shots so the whole team can be on the right page.
“I’m the last person behind them, so they have to be able to trust me back there,” Stratton said.
Every team would rather its goalkeeper not be called into action, but every so often, it needs the player between the posts, one who is confident and can save shots.
This season, Alabama has been rigid on defense, only allowing two goals in four games total.
The trust Stratton has developed with the defenders in front of her has been key to Alabama’s success so far. She knows they have her back.
“The people in front of me are the key to my success,” she said. “I know I have to step up whenever they need me, and I know they would do the same for me. I know Caroline (Alexander) in a couple games has come up with some really clutch tackles.”
Stratton knows one big save can change an entire game.
In Alabama’s 4-0 win against Campbell, Stratton saved a shot from point-blank range to keep the Crimson Tide from going down 1-0. Junior Lacey Clarida said a big save like that can energize any team into making sure the opposing team doesn't get another shot.
“She got her pinkie toe on the shot and saved a goal for us,” Clarida said. “We had a bad start and had her turn the game around. After that it was all offense. It is definitely always good to have Kat in goal.”
Stratton has come into a leadership role ever since taking over as the starting goalkeeper. Her job has not only been to lead the team but to usher in Alabama’s two new freshmen goalkeepers. Emilie Saksvig and Alex Plavin had to learn the techniques required to be a college goalie.
Along with Stratton, senior captain Caroline Alexander has been important to the team from a leadership standpoint. Alexander anchors the defensive line and makes sure it is as tough as can be.
Coach Wes Hart said Alexander's leadership from the beginning of the season, and even before, has been key for Alabama.
“I have been thrilled with the leadership that Caroline (Alexander) and also Auburn Mercer have shown,” Hart said. “She did a good job early on in the summer making the new players feel welcome. This year’s crew is tighter than ever before.”
The entire team has benefited from a strong defense so far. On the opposite end, Alabama has been able to use its tough defense to spring strong counter-attacks on offense.
“We don’t have very many shots against us, and when we do, they aren’t very good shots,” Clarida said. “It’s good to know we are strong back there, and they will always be ready for us to counter-attack.”
Alabama will look to continue its strong defensive and goalkeeping play when the team heads to Tampa, Florida, to take on South Florida.