By (Ben Stansell)

A thrilling second half comeback led by forward Abbie Boswell was not enough for Alabama to defeat Auburn in Tuesday night’s Iron Bowl of Soccer, as the Crimson Tide fell to the Tigers 4-2 in the latest installment of the storied in-state rivalry.

With the heartbreaking loss, Alabama’s fourth straight, the Crimson Tide fall to 8-6-1 overall and 0-5-1 in conference play. Auburn’s conquest over Alabama gives the team a 16-7-2 lead in the overall series.

Coming into the showdown with Auburn, Alabama’s offensive attack had been struggling, having failed to score a goal in the last three games. A contributing factor to the Crimson Tide’s lack of offensive production was that no single player had stepped up and taken control of a game, according to Alabama coach Wes Hart.

“I thought that’s what we’ve lacked the past few games, we kind of just lacked, you know nobody really wanted to take ownership to go make something happen,” Hart said.

Alabama did not face that problem on the field against Auburn. After the Crimson Tide fell behind 2-0 in the second half, forward Abbie Boswell knew that she needed to take the reins, and that’s what she did – scoring two goals in a matter of five minutes to give Alabama a chance at a comeback.

“You look at some of these teams we play where they have players who are willing to take games over themselves,” Hart said. “Tonight Abbie was that player for us. She did a great job,”

Boswell’s first goal came in the 69th minute of the game when she converted a penalty kick awarded to her after Auburn’s goalie collided with an Alabama player in the box while trying to stop its offensive attack. The score brought the game back to 2-1 and provided the Crimson Tide with a spark of energy. Auburn wasted no time extinguishing that spark, extending its lead to 3-1 with a goal only two minutes later.

Not content to give up the fight yet, Boswell found pay-dirt again in the 72th minute of play, making the game 3-2. Boswell’s second score, her fifth of the season, was a rocket of a kick from outside the box that she miraculously placed in the top right corner of the goal, the only place that the Auburn keeper could not defend.

“I was feeling like I needed one and that the team needed one,” Boswell said. “It’s been a while so I just tried to give it 110 percent.”

Despite Boswell’s efforts, Alabama’s defense proved porous, allowing Auburn to increase its lead to 4-2 in the 79th minute of play. The score would stay 4-2 as Auburn was able to fend off Alabama’s threats for the remainder of the contest.

Although Alabama outshot Auburn 23-10 overall, the Crimson Tide were less efficient at converting chances as the Tigers were. Chatham Deprospo, Chloe Maize and Emma Welch also chipped in on Alabama’s offensive production, taking four, five and three shots respectively.

For the Alabama players, watching Auburn’s team lift up the traveling Iron Bowl trophy in celebration was tough to swallow, but the pain will be used as fuel going forward, according to Boswell.

“It’s devastating, especially when we played well,” Boswell said. “But our team is going to come out next game and we’re going to win and we’re going to keep winning.”

Hart was dismayed with the loss, but is still pleased with the way Alabama performed.

“We’re discouraged with this being our fourth loss in a row,” Hart said. “We’re playing good opponents, and they’re making us pay. They’re making the most out of their opportunities. I’m not dissatisfied with the soccer that we’re playing, but we just lack quality in the tackle box.”

Alabama will host Mississippi State this Sunday at 5 p.m. The Crimson Tide will still be looking to secure its first SEC win.

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Source:: The Crimson White Sports