The Crimson Tide opened the bulk of their conference play in rough fashion on Thursday night, falling to No. 11 Arkansas, 5-0.
The Razorbacks wasted no time getting on the scoreboard, scoring twice in the first seven minutes and not looking back. Anna Podijil assisted Bea Franklin and Avery Wren for the two opening goals, then scored the third one herself in the 15th minute.
“Against Arkansas, you have to be able to match their intensity and weather their initial storm. They are so good at starting games fast and aggressive. They got an early goal and fed off that,” said Alabama head coach Wes Hart.
The second half wasn’t much better for the Tide, with Morgan White exploding for two impressive goals on her own for the Hogs. The 5-0 loss was Alabama’s first regular season loss since August of 2022.
Hart made no excuses for the team’s underwhelming effort.
“We didn’t compete tonight. That’s the first time in a long time I can say that.”
Arkansas controlled nearly every aspect of the game Thursday night, recording 23 shots (11 on goal) compared to just 15 shots (five on goal) for the Crimson Tide. The Razorbacks also forced a whopping 10 corners tonight, maintaining possession of the ball in their attacking third for the majority of the match.
Arkansas’s persistent intensity led to visible frustration from the Tide, who were called for 11 total fouls on the night. Alabama was also given five yellow cards in the match tonight, going to Macy Clem, Brooke Steere, Sasha Pickard, Felicia Knox and Kennedy Garcia. The Crimson Tide will have to look to be more disciplined with a rigorous SEC schedule ahead of them.
Just to make things worse for the Tide, Gianna Paul went down in the second half with what appeared to be a rolled ankle. Paul was unable to make a return to the game after limping off the field. The severity of the injury will be determined upon further evaluation when the team arrives back to Tuscaloosa.
Tide fans will hope for the best as Paul has been unarguably one of the most impactful players on the team this season. The 2022 SEC Freshman of the year leads Alabama in goals on the year with seven, which matches her entire season total for 2022. Her absence would be detrimental for the Crimson Tide offense.
Alabama moves to a record of 6-1-4 following the loss, with a winless 0-1-1 record in conference play. The Tide will look to rebound when they host Vanderbilt on Sunday evening.
Caden Johnson serves as WVUA-FM’s senior soccer writer. You can follow Johnson on X @CadenLJohnson.