TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Crimson Tide got back in the win column with an impressive defensive performance against Vanderbilt on Sunday evening.
The win marks the first win in conference play for the Tide this season, moving them to a 1-1-1 record in the SEC.
After a scoreless first 40 minutes of play, Marianna Annest scored on a beautiful ball sent in by Sydney Japic. The goal was Annest’s second of the season and ultimately ended up being the deciding factor in the match.
“We showed up knowing that we’re the same team that we have been all throughout the non-conference season,” Annest said, following the bounce back win. “We were able to get some of the rhythm back that we’ve had this year.”
The Tide, coming off a 0-5 loss against Arkansas, knew they had to have a shift of energy moving forward in conference play.
“I wanted it to sting a bit,” Coach Wes Hart said, when asked about his message to the team after the blowout loss. “There’s lessons to be learned… but at the same time, I didn’t want it to affect us.”
There were no signs of the Thursday loss lingering with the team on Sunday evening, as Alabama displayed the high level of intensity and aggressiveness that Tide fans are used to seeing. The back line held strong, forcing six offsides against the Commodores and Tide goalkeeper Dylan Pixton picked up her fourth shutout of the season with five impressive saves.
Pixton, a graduate transfer from Kennesaw State, has started six games this season, splitting starts with Coralie Lallier.
“Both of them are so darn good. It’s a luxury to have,” Hart had to say about his two goalkeepers.
Another bright spot from Sunday night’s matchup was Gianna Paul, who despite rolling her ankle in the previous game, was able to give the Crimson Tide what Hart described as “huge” minutes off the bench.
Hart and the Alabama staff were surprised themselves to see Paul play, with Hart stating, “I did not think she was going to play… The way she rolled it and was acting after the game and even yesterday, we did not think she was going to play.”
The Crimson Tide improved to a record of 7-1-4 with the win, and will look to keep playing at a high level with a grueling SEC schedule ahead of them.
Alabama will be back in action on Friday night, when they go up against Kentucky on the road.
Caden Johnson serves as WVUA-FM’s senior soccer writer. You can follow Johnson on X @CadenLJohnson.