Alabama soccer struggled on the road last year, and coming into the new season, the team was forced to face its problems head-on with six opponents away from home in its first nine games.
The Crimson Tide is currently in the middle of that road game stretch that features two SEC opponents. The team already traveled to Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Florida cities Tampa and Ft. Meyers. In those three games, the Crimson Tide won two, only falling to No. 20 South Florida.
More than its record was built while on the road, though.
“I think with any team, when you go on the road, you have to spend every minute of every day with them, that would really bring any team closer,” senior captain Auburn Mercer said.
Alabama faced an odd predicament for its second and third games of the trip. Traveling to Florida, the Crimson Tide found itself going head-first into a hurricane. The game against South Florida had to be rescheduled due to weather, and the team had to spend a lot more time in the hotel rooms than expected.
With so much time on the road, academics can sometimes take a back seat, too. The players have to find time to get their school work done while also focusing on the team’s upcoming games. Most players get in contact with their teachers to make sure they can get ahead and get all of their work done.
Emma Welch knows academics are important and works to keep herself on time when the team faces long road trips.
“You really have to keep up with your school work and everything,” Welch said. “The teachers work with us really well, and they let us make up things and take them early. All of the professors I’ve had are really helpful.”
Even though some players and teams pride themselves in taking the life out of an opposing crowd, Mercer said the Crimson Tide’s approach to each game remains the same. Whether it is a big game in a tough environment or a home game against a conference rival, the team tackles it the same way.
“We’ll take it as it is anywhere,” she said. “We want to win at home or away. We want to win all of them. The pride that we feel is the same, home or away.”
Alabama’s first SEC game is coming up this weekend in Knoxville, Tennessee, to take on the Volunteers. This will be the first conference test of the season for the Crimson Tide, with Alabama entering with a 5-1 record.
Hart said this is a good test to start SEC play, and it will show him how the team can stack up against the conference. Alabama takes on Tennessee on Friday.
“It’s an opportunity for us to start SEC play off on a positive note,” Hart said. “We had a very good non-conference season so far, and we still have one non-conference game, but to be sitting at 5-1 in non-conference is good. Hopefully that will carry over into conference play. It is important for to get off on the right foot at Tennessee.”
After Tennessee, the team will travel to Birmingham, Alabama, for its game against Samford on Sept. 13, then to Lexington, Kentucky, to play against the Wildcats on Sept. 18.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports