By (Cody Estremera)

This offseason the Alabama women’s soccer team, coming off a rough 2015 season, put in the work needed to be successful this year. Now is the time for the team to prove all that hard work accomplished something.

“I’m excited [about the season] because I think this is going to be the best season I’ve had in the four years playing for Alabama,” senior Auburn Mercer said. “I think our overall mentality has changed. Last year we had a mentality to try not to lose. The biggest change has been we are going to play to win.”

The Crimson Tide has its first home games this weekend. Alabama will hosts Sam Houston State on Friday at 7 p.m. and Murray State on Sunday at 6 p.m.

The main focus the team has been working on is its play on the road. Last year the team finished with seven road losses. This year eight of the first 11 games the Crimson Tide play will take place outside of Tuscaloosa.

“I think the upcoming game will set the tone for how we react to other road games,” senior Caroline Alexander said. “We definitely had some trouble last year, but we are really trying to transition and change things. So just coming out with a good start on the road will really help us and benefit us in the future.”

The first exhibition game of the year was also the Crimson Tide’s only scheduled game against Auburn this season, and it was on the road. Hart said this game is more of a measuring stick of how they will play against good teams. The Auburn game finished tied 2-2.

Mercer doesn’t believe that the amount of road games will make a difference this year. She said that the team is so excited to play that it doesn’t matter where the team plays.

After road games the biggest problem for the Crimson Tide last season was depth partly because the team also had some problems with staying healthy.

“Its huge [that amount of depth this year],” Hart said. “Number one it’s going to push our projected starters, ultimately some of those players that are used to starting and playing are going to be beaten out. I think anytime you have competition within your team it’s a good thing. The fact that we don’t have injuries right now lets us take full advantage of that depth.”

Hart feels the Crimson Tide’s record will actually help the team and is one of the biggest advantages this year.

“I got to believe that teams will overlook us,” Hart said. “We won five games last year and finished last in the SEC. For me it hurts your pride, but at the same time its motivated us to work harder. It showed us how much work we have to do. Maybe people will look at who we were last year and think we’re the same team.”

This season will be Hart’s second full season with the team. His system is now in place, and he feels confident that the team is ready for a fresh start.

“I think last year we knew we had a tough task. We didn’t really have time to prepare our team,” Hart said. “We knew there was going to be more ups and downs, but we had a fantastic spring season. We raised the bar, and we pushed the players, physically and mentally, more than they had ever been pushed before. I think we will reap the benefits this fall.”

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports