Alabama soccer hoping to make strides in fourth year under Wes Hart

Alabama soccer hoping to make strides in fourth year under Wes Hart

Alabama soccer faced Clemson on the road on Saturday. 

The University of Alabama soccer team defeated Memphis 2-0 to begin their spring exhibition season. Head coach Wes Hart will be entering into his fourth season with the Tide and will be looking to evaluate his roster and determine the identity of this new team.

Hart has been critical in the development of the soccer program here at UA.  Adopted a program that had been going through quite a few rough patches, Hart crafted a program that finished 5-12-2 in his first year into a 12-8-1 finish in his third year that looks to be steadily improving with each passing fall.

“We came in right away and set the bar high and the standards high,” Hart said. “some of the players decided that this wasn’t what they had signed up for but the players that remained bought in.”

Senior captain Emma Welsh understands the transition this team has gone through better than anyone. She was a freshman during Hart’s first year and now enters her final year fully aware of the contributions that Hart has made on the program during her tenure.

“Each year we’ve been building on the weapons that he’s been implementing,” Welsh said. “it all has just been coming together to culminate and it’s been getting better and better every year.”

Hart is a player’s coach in the purest form. He gets in on drills and organizes workouts that the girls will enjoy. It is his hope that the girls will look forward to the opportunity to practice and define their skills and be more passionate as a result.

“The big thing is making it enjoyable,” Hart said, “too many coaches at {every} level squash the enjoyment out of the game and kill the passion in the player. I want my players looking forward to training.”

The attitude and demeanor that Hart has brought to this locker room not only translates to the girls’ relationships on the pitch, but has even had its impact felt off it.

“When I first got here, no one showed up to practice [more] than 15 minutes early,” Welsh said. “I walk into practice now an hour and a half early and people are just sitting in here doing homework, watching T.V., joking around. Everyone wants to be here because of the people in it, and not just soccer, which is really nice.”

Hart has seen his team make great strides in their success since his arrival and uses the spring as an opportunity to introduce freshman to the grind of collegiate soccer. He encourages his recruits to enroll early in order to help them acclimate to not only the pace of the game and his style of play, but life on campus in general.

Lily Truong, a freshman forward this past season who enrolled early, said that the process gave her an opportunity to really get an understanding of the system that Hart was orchestrating in Tuscaloosa. She has been using this spring season as a bit of a comeback tour. She played her first minutes in over two and half years in their victory over Memphis as a result of a torn ACL.

As the spring season continues to wear on, Hart and the girls are growing more and more comfortable with the roster they have coming back, gaining momentum for what they expect will be a major improvement from this year.

“When I first came here, [making the NCAA tournament] was not the goal, we had a long list of losing seasons,” Welsh said. “And now our freshmen going into their sophomore year are thinking, ‘Well now let’s win a game in the NCAA tournament. Let’s make it to the quarterfinals of the SEC tournament.’ The program as a whole has grown tremendously since the time I first got here.”

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