By (Marquis Munson)

On August 24, 2012, Abby Lutzenkirchen, a freshman from Marietta, Georgia, played her first game at the Alabama Soccer Complex in front of a crowd of over 1,200,

Nervous before that game, veterans on the team told her that mistakes will happen and to just believe in herself no matter what, she soaked all that in. On that summer night, the Crimson Tide defeated the Samford Bulldogs 2-1, Lutzenkirchen finished with one shot attempted.

“It was so much fun, but I was really nervous,” Lutzenkirchen said. “But the second the whistle blew I just knew this was where I was meant to be.”

Now a senior team captain, Lutzenkirchen will step on the field of the Alabama Soccer Complex for the last time, during the Crimson Tide’s match against the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sunday in front of her friends and family for senior night.

“It’s definitely bittersweet knowing this is my last home weekend,” Lutzenkirchen said. “I’ve been a part of a lot of my teammate’s senior nights, its weird knowing mine is soon. College has been so much fun and I’ll be sad leaving all my friends here. But I’m definitely ready to see what’s in store for the next stage in life.”

In addition to club soccer, she also had a lot of success playing for Lassiter High School where she recorded over 21 career goals and 38 assists. She was named first team all-country three times and was a Georgia Gatorade player of the year nominee.

“We competed for the state, regional, and national titles every year,” Lutzenkirchen said. “It taught me discipline and to always put the team first. I came from a very competitive club team, and my club coach definitely treated us like college level players and had high expectations for us growing up.”

Lutzenkirchen enrolled to the University of Alabama with hype surrounding her. In her first year, she started all of the Crimson Tide’s 19 games and was named SEC First Year Academic Honor Roll. She recorded 12 shots, with 6 on goal. Her defense that season helped the team record 5 shutouts and held opposing teams to one goal or less in 11 games.

In the summer of 2013, she played on the North Atlanta Soccer Association Girls 12 Elite II club team helping them win the 2013 United State Youth Soccer National Championship. That successful summer helped her going into her sophomore season, as she began establishing herself as one of the top defenders in the SEC. She was the only player on the team to start every game that season playing 1,620 minutes out of a possible 1,650.

In honor of her late brother, Phillip, she changed her number from 33 to 43 in her junior year and had one of her best seasons. She started all 20 games for the Crimson Tide playing 93.4 percent of the team’s 1,751 minutes played. She helped lead the defense to nine shutouts and recorded three assists, including assisting on a goal game-winning goal in double overtime against LSU.

“As a player she’s really developed as a center back and has played a big role as an experienced player for us in the back,” goalkeeper Emily Rusk said. “As a teammate, it’s been really great getting to know her. She’s really outgoing and will talk to anyone and is always laughing. It’s been fun getting to play with her during my time here.”

This season, Lutzenkirchen came into the season a Preseason SEC Watch List and moved up to fifth all-time in minutes played at the Crimson Tide collecting a total of 5,885.

“Playing with Abby has been an awesome opportunity,” defender Auburn Mercer said. “She has been a leader ever since I’ve been here and she is a player I look up to and has been a positive influence on me. Her energy on and off the field is something I hope to bring to the table next year when I am a senior.”

This weekend, the Crimson Tide will play their last two home games of the season against the Missouri Tigers on Friday and the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sunday. Both Lutzenkirchen and Rusk will be honored this weekend.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports