After defeating Western Carolina in the first round of the NCAA tournament, Alabama was tasked with taking on one of the most storied programs in the history of the sport for the second time this season in UNC. Despite a valiant second half effort, the task proved to be too much for the Tide, and the 1-0 loss put an end to their excellent season.
The Tar Heels dominated the first half, dictating the pace in all thirds of the pitch. The Alabama backline was kept on their toes, as they were unable to find any offensive rhythm in the midfield. After multiple missed opportunities, UNC’s Ally Sentnor scored the lone goal of the match in the 19th minute, placing a shot just out of Coralie Lallier’s reach and into the bottom right corner of the goal.
The Crimson Tide came out almost a completely different team in the second half, competing with the Tar Heels all the way until the final minute. Alabama had a couple of chances, but were unable to find the back of the net. Arguably the most telling stat of the game was UNC’s nine shots on goal compared to zero for the Tide.
Coach Wes Hart acknowledged his team’s second half fight, deeming it as “excellent.” “We were able to gain much more territory and pin them in,” Hart added.
Although the offense may have had their struggles Friday, the defense held strong, as they’ve done all season. The Tide gave up just one goal despite having the ball on their side of the field for the vast majority of the match. Lallier tallied a career high eight saves in goal, wrapping up her phenomenal freshman year with a 7-3-3 record as a starter.
“Today we lost to a very talented and well coached North Carolina team,” Hart said, following the loss. “Proud of our team today and throughout the season. We had big shoes to fill based on our success last season, and despite losing a core group of players from last season, we were able to put together a pretty impressive year.”
The Crimson Tide finish their season with a 12-5-5 record with a record of 5-4-1 in SEC play. Alabama also advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament for just the third time in program history with the other two instances being the two years prior.
With the continued success of the Tide over the past few seasons, there’s firm reason to believe that Coach Hart has the program trending upwards for years to come.
Caden Johnson serves as WVUA-FM’s senior soccer writer. You can follow him on X @CadenLJohnson.