Soccer earns third NCAA tournament bid in program historyBy Ben Stansell | 11/07/2017 11:37am
Alabama soccer earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in program history on Monday. The Crimson Tide are slated to face off against the Clemson Tigers on the road on Nov. 10 in the first round of tournament play.
Alabama’s tournament berth is the culmination of a rebuild project initiated by third year coach Wes Hart. Under Hart, the Crimson Tide’s win total has improved each year, with the squad boasting a record of 12-7-1 overall and 4-6-1 in the SEC this season. Alabama’s 12 wins during this campaign are the most victories the Crimson Tide have recorded in a single season since 2002.
“I am totally excited for the players,” head coach Wes Hart said in a press release. “They have worked tremendously hard for this moment. Dating back to two years ago when I took this group over, with all the struggles and growing pains and ups and downs, for us to be able to celebrate this is pretty exciting.”
The Crimson Tide started the 2017 season off strong, posting an 8-1 non-conference record and recording a 1-0 landmark victory over then number 6/4 Florida State. However, Alabama struggled in the early stages of SEC play, losing four straight games to conference opponents. The Crimson Tide were able to regroup and put together a four-game winning streak against conference foes that they rode into the SEC tournament.
“We knew we had the talent, but there is so much more than talent that goes into play,” Hart said. “Staying healthy, catching breaks and being able to grind throughout the season are some of those contributors. We started off the season hot, then went through a rough patch, but we were able to bounce back and end on a high note, which is pretty special.”
Alabama’s NCAA tournament bid puts an end to a six-year drought. The Crimson Tide have not appeared in the tournament since 2011, when they lost 3-2 in overtime to Miami in the first round. Prior to its 2011 appearance, Alabama had not competed in the NCAA Tournament since 1998, when the Crimson Tide lost 3-1 to Texas A&M in the first round.
This Alabama squad hopes to become the first to advance past the first round of the NCAA Tournament. The time and date for the first round of tournament competition will be announced later this week.