The next chapter in the storied Alabama vs. Auburn rivalry will be written on the soccer field today at 6 p.m. when the Crimson Tide square off against the Tigers at the Alabama Soccer Complex.
The 25th meeting between the in-state rivals was originally scheduled for this past Sunday, but was postponed until today due to concerns over inclement weather generated by Hurricane Nate. Alabama Head Coach Wes Hart is not concerned that the sudden change in the day of the game will be a distraction for his team.
“I think certainly you’re excited and amped to play on Sunday” Hart said. “You’re kind of prepared for it, but at the same time we saw this coming over a couple days, monitoring the weather and knowing it was a possibility, and so at the end of the day I don’t think it should be a distraction. Both teams were in favor of the move because I think both teams would rather play in ideal conditions rather than in potential hurricane conditions.”
For Alabama (8-5-1, 0-4-1 SEC), today’s showdown against Auburn (5-4-3, 2-1-2 SEC) is not only an opportunity to secure its first SEC win of the season, but also a chance to beat a Tigers team that has owned the rivalry over the past two decades, winning 13 of the last 16 meetings. Due to that dominant run, Auburn maintains a 15-7-2 lead in the series overall. Although the two teams did not clash last year, the crushing 2-1 double-overtime defeat that Auburn dealt Alabama in the 2015 season is still fresh on the mind of Coach Hart.
“They’ve had the better of us recently,” Hart said. “I don’t know all of the stats, but I know they’ve beaten us the last few times.” “We didn’t play last year but the year before they got us in overtime here at home.”
Alabama, having already been plagued with injuries to several key players, will be without standout defender Nealy Martin for the matchup against Auburn. Martin has to serve a one-game suspension after receiving a red card in the Crimson Tide’s road loss against No. 19 Texas A&M last Thursday.
While Martin’s absence will certainly be felt on the defensive end, the Alabama is getting back a vital part of its offensive attack with Celia Jimenez Delgado’s return from injury. Delgado, who has scored two goals and recorded three assists this season, is a crucial part of an Alabama attack that has been kept quiet over the last few games. The Crimson Tide will seek to reverse that trend by attacking early in today’s game, according to Coach Hart.
“For us, it’s about getting a goal early, which would be a huge confidence boost for us, as opposed to trying to play catch up,” Hart said. “The sooner that we can get our own team believing, as well as the fans into the game, we’d love to start off with the ball early.”
Even though Hart asserts that Alabama’s battle against Auburn possesses the same importance as any other game, he acknowledges what a win today will do for his team moving forward.
“It’s an opportunity for us to beat a rival, to beat a very good team, and to get our season back on track,” Hart said.
Alabama is looking to regain control over the traveling Iron Bowl trophy, which Auburn has had possession of since 2012.
Source:: The Crimson White Sports