Things got heated from the field to the sideline in the final game at the Alabama Soccer Complex this season as the Alabama Crimson Tide fell to the Mississippi State Bulldogs 2-1.
With a final spot in the SEC Tournament on the line, both teams fought to stay in tournament contention.
“I’m extremely proud of our girls in this game; this is probably our best game we’ve played in the last month or so,” coach Wes Hart said. “I felt like the offense was clicking. We created 30 chances and 11 corner kicks, so clearly we were doing something right. Unfortunately we weren’t rewarded for it.”
After the first period, both teams were scoreless. Alabama’s defense held Mississippi State to four shot attempts with none reaching the goal. The Crimson Tide controlled possession on the offensive side of the ball, taking 11 shots and three on goal.
In the first five minutes of the second period, the Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead after forward Mallory Eubanks juked goalkeeper Kat Stratton and placed the ball in the open net.
A minute later, the Crimson Tide’s forward Emma Welch was rewarded a penalty kick that was saved by goalkeeper Tanya de Souza. Despite the save, midfielder Hailey Brohaugh rebounded the ball and scored her first goal of the season to tie the game at 1-1.
After the game-tying goal, words were exchanged on the sideline between Hart and Bulldogs head coach Aaron Gordon about the officiating calls on the field.
“It’s all in good spirit,” Hart said. “I have a lot of respect for him, and he’s done a great job of turning that program around. He is a competitor, I am a competitor, and the competitive juices just got flowing.”
At the 77-minute mark, the Bulldogs regained the lead with a goal by forward Kennadi Carbin, with Eubanks and Ariana Holmes assisting on the play. The Crimson Tide fought back to regain the lead with close shots near the goal, but the Bulldogs’ goalkeeper was able to hang on to the lead and hand the Crimson Tide its 11th loss of the season.
“Their keeper made some big saves, and when their keeper didn’t come up with the save, they were clearing them off the line with defenders,” Hart said. “Credit to Mississippi State: at the end of the day, the goal is to win the game, and they found a way to win it.”
The Crimson Tide outshot the Bulldogs 30-11 with 10 different players on the shot chart. Midfielder Celia Jimenez had six shots with one on goal followed by forward Auburn Mercer with four shots and two on goal. The Bulldogs won their first game at the Alabama Soccer Complex since 2005.
At the 50-minute mark of the second period, senior defender Abby Lutzenkirchen became Alabama’s all-time leader in minutes played, passing Ashley Willis’ 6,592 mark back in 2009-2012. Lutzenkirchen was honored before the game for her senior night.
“Abby and all the seniors, I wish we could have done better for them,” Hart said. “It wasn’t for a lack of effort or quality.”
The Alabama Soccer Complex had 505 fans in attendance in the home finale. The Crimson Tide will play the last game of the regular season in Fayetteville against the Arkansas Razorbacks. Opening kick begins at 7 p.m.
“I’m pleased that people came out [for our home games], but I can understand we aren’t winning games, so I can understand why we aren’t drawing huge crowds,” Hart said. “But for those that came out and supported us, watched us on TV, or supported us all year long, I can’t thank them enough. I’m confident that we’ll be able to get this ship sailing in the right direction. I’m very optimistic about the future here.”
Source:: The Crimson White Sports