By (Matthew Speakman)

The Alabama soccer team will get the chance to do something it has not done in almost a month: play in front of its home fans.

The team has been away from Tuscaloosa for the last six games, and on Thursday it will finally return to the Alabama Soccer Complex to take on No. 15 Arkansas.

“We are so pumped to have a home game and to have our fans and to just be at home,” senior captain Auburn Mercer said. “I feel like I haven’t gotten off of a bus in forever.”

Alabama had a fairly successful road trip recently, winning three games, losing two and tying one. Both losses saw Alabama only falling by a goal.

The Crimson Tide also played in two Southeastern Conference games during the trip. It won one and tied the other. Last season, it took Alabama four tries before picking up a conference road win.

So, what has been the key for Alabama so far? Confidence.

Junior midfielder Chatham DeProspo, who scored a hat trick in the game against Tennessee, believes this team can go out and compete with any team on any field.

“When we step on someone else’s field, we are always battling,” she said. “When they step on our field, it is going to be the same thing.”

Aside from DeProspo, Alabama has had multiple players step up in different games. Mercer believes the added depth for the Crimson Tide has allowed it to compete in games in the SEC.

“Somebody different steps up to the plate every game,” Mercer said. “There is not one person or two people carrying this team, it is everybody together.”

The long road trip for the Crimson Tide was not only tough from a soccer standpoint, but that the amount of travel can weigh on a team.

With many bus rides and flights, the players would sometimes come out into the game with less energy than they had hoped. Mercer said this was the problem for the team when it traveled to Lexington to take on Kentucky. The team came out sluggish, and it took some time for it to get going offensively.

Another aspect of the road trip was academics. With so much time away from class, many of the players had to work extra hard to make sure they stayed on top of their schoolwork while also preparing for a game.

“It was hard to keep up with classes,” DeProspo said. “It was also hard to have your legs completely still and cramped up on a bus and then go out and play a game.”

Alabama’s first game back in Tuscaloosa is not an easy one, as the team will take on another SEC team in Arkansas.

So far, Alabama players have said they pride themselves on being able to go out and battle in every game. Since the team finished last in the SEC last season, the team believes it has nothing to lose.

DeProspo believes the Razorbacks are similar to Alabama in the way the team attacks its opponents.

“I don’t think we’ve matched up with a team that is as good at battling with toughness and physicality as Arkansas,” she said. “It will be a good game to match up against them, because both us and them bring that.”

Alabama and No. 15 Arkansas kick off at 7 p.m. CT at the Alabama Soccer Complex on Thursday.

…read more

Source:: The Crimson White Sports