Senior Tide soccer players create lasting legacyBy Ben Stansell | 10/19/2017 8:38am
When the curtain finally closes on her Alabama soccer career, Celia Jimenez Delgado will not gaze back in wistful reflection. Instead, Delgado will look back on the legacy left by her and other members of the senior class with pride. Not only have Alabama’s seniors enjoyed illustrious individual careers on the pitch, they have also helped transform the culture surrounding Alabama’s soccer program by redefining what it means to compete on the field.
Although most senior classes feature several game-changing players, it is rare that a senior group boasts as many Alabama’s 2017 class does. The quantity of impactful players composing this class is a primary reason why it is special, according to Alabama head coach Wes Hart.
“Their strength in numbers is a special quality,” Hart said. “It’s a nice size class and each of them are contributing one way or another to the team. Just a really good group of seniors for sure.”
All six members of the senior class have recorded significant minutes for the Crimson Tide this season, but none have logged more than senior goalkeeper and team co-captain Kat Stratton, who has started and played the duration of all 16 games so far. Over the past few seasons, Stratton has established herself as one of Alabama’s most prolific goalies in program history, owning the best career goals against average in school history and ranking sixth all-time in career saves.
Stratton’s co-captain, Jimenez Delgado, has been a staple of Alabama’s team identity since transferring from Iowa Western Community College before her junior year. Delgado’s versatility has been instrumental in Alabama’s success this season, especially when injuries and suspensions began to hinder the Crimson Tide earlier this season. Delgado’s ability to be an impact player at various positions is far from her only defining attribute – she is also a strong leader on and off the field for the Crimson Tide, setting an example that younger players can follow.
“Celia is someone all of the players look up to,” Hart said. “She’s such a good person, not only a good soccer player, but someone who cares about her teammates and is really just a fantastic person.”
Another multifaceted midfielder, senior Chatham DeProspo has played an integral role in Alabama’s offensive attack during her three seasons with the Crimson Tide, amassing seven goals and three assists in 52 career games. Even though she’s been dealing with an injured quadricep for most of the 2017 campaign, DeProspo has gutted it out, refusing to miss significant time during her final season.
Along with Delgado and DeProspo, Hailey Brohaugh has supplied Alabama with consistency at the midfield position this season, ranking third on the team in total minutes played. Brohaugh has been a mainstay of Alabama’s midfield since her redshirt freshman season. In the 68 games that Brohaugh has seen action in, she has garnered seven goals and four assists while asserting herself as a defensive stalwart.
Alabama’s senior class contains breakout players as well. Entering the 2017 season, seniors Alexis Mouton and Maddy Anzelc were not expected to be vital members of Alabama’s squad. Mouton was ailing from her third bout with mononucleosis and was not even expected to make it on the field. However, Mouton recovered from her sickness and has emerged as a go-to offensive catalyst off the bench for Hart. Mouton provided a spark for Alabama’s attack when she netted a crucial goal in last Sunday’s 3-2 win over Mississippi State.
With the influx of freshman talent Alabama brought in last year, Anzelc found herself struggling to find minutes at the beginning of the season. That changed when freshman midfielder Kaley Verpaele tore her ACL against South Carolina halfway through the season. Anzelc stepped up in Verpaele’s place, making the most of her opportunity by scoring a game winning goal against Chattanooga.
Only three games remain on Alabama’s SEC schedule and the Crimson Tide currently sits second to last in the conference with only four points and a 1-5-1 SEC record. In order to qualify for the SEC tournament, Alabama will need a strong showing to close out the season.
Alabama’s seniors are aware of the gravity associated with each remaining game and they are motivated to end their collegiate careers with a bang, according to Hart.
“This senior class is going to look at it as their last hoorah and a wonderful opportunity to finish strong that they don’t want to let slip past them,” Hart said.
Regardless of how the remainder of the season turns out, Deglado believes that Alabama’s seniors have helped transform Alabama’s culture and are leaving the program better than they found it.
“I think the most important thing that we changed this year was that, maybe in previous years we wanted to win, but we weren’t sure it was for us,” Delgado said. “Now as seniors we believe we can win. We’re creating a good culture about wanting to win and making it happen.”
Alabama’s seniors will lead the team against Arkansas on the road Thursday at 7 p.m.