Soccer Hosts Mississippi State in Exhibition Play Saturday Night

Aug. 15, 2014

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama soccer team is set to open the 2014 campaign with its lone exhibition game of the year, as the Tide welcomes SEC rival Mississippi State on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Alabama Soccer Complex.

The Bulldogs are one of two teams the Crimson Tide will not meet during the SEC regular season (Texas A&M is the other).

Alabama returns nine starters and 12 letterwinners off last season's squad, which includes four seniors from a year ago. However, the Tide will be a young team as 15 members of the squad are either sophomores (5) or freshmen (10).

FOLLOW THE TIDE ONLINE

Fans can watch/follow this weekend's matches via the below outlets:

Gametracker: RollTide.com

Watch: NA

Listen: WVUA 90.7 FM

Twitter: @AlabamaSoccer

THE OPENING KICK

• The Crimson Tide returns four of its top five offensive leaders in total points from a year ago. Highlighting the list of returning scorers is senior Pia Rijsdijk (7g, 4a/18 pts), who led the team in goals and points last season. Rijsdijk was one of the top players in league play a year ago. After recording only one point in non-conference play, the Numansdorp, Netherlands native accounted for 17 of her 18 points against SEC competition. Joining Rijsdijk in the offensive attack will be seniors Merel Van Dongen (4g, 0a), Theresa Diederich (3g, 2a) and Laura Lee Smith (3g, 0a).

• Senior Merel Van Dongen returns for her senior season after missing the final 12 games of last year with a knee injury. She injured the knee in mid-September training with the Netherlands Women's National Team. Van Dongen, who was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and an second team All-SEC performer in 2012, scored four goals in the team's first six games a year ago, including a pair of game-winners.

• Senior Pia Rijsdijk is closing in on the program's all-time shots record, which was set just last year by Molly Atherton. Atherton set the record last year and finished her career with 199 shots. Rijsdijk enters the 2014 campaign with 178 career shots, which ranks second in program history. If she accomplishes the feat, she would become the first player in program history to record 200 shots in a career.

SCOUTING ALABAMA

• Alabama returns nine starters and 12 letterwinners off last season's squad, which includes four seniors from a year ago. However, the Tide will be a young team as 15 members of the squad are either sophomores (5) or freshmen (10).

• The Crimson Tide returns four of its top five offensive leaders in total points from a year ago. Highlighting the list of returning scorers is senior Pia Rijsdijk (7g, 4a/18 pts), who led the team in goals and points last season. Rijsdijk was one of the top players in league play a year ago. After recording only one point in non-conference play, the Numansdorp, Netherlands native accounted for 17 of her 18 points against SEC competition. Joining Rijsdijk in the offensive attack will be seniors Merel Van Dongen (4g, 0a), Theresa Diederich (3g, 2a) and Laura Lee Smith (3g, 0a).

• Senior Merel Van Dongen returns for her senior season after missing the final 12 games of last year with a knee injury. She injured the knee in mid-September training with the Netherlands Women's National Team. Van Dongen, who was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and an second team All-SEC performer in 2012, scored four goals in the team's first six games a year ago, including a pair of game-winners.

• Senior Pia Rijsdijk is closing in on the program's all-time shots record, which was set just last year by Molly Atherton. Atherton set the record last year and finished her career with 199 shots. Rijsdijk enters the 2014 campaign with 178 career shots, which ranks second in program history. If she accomplishes the feat, she would become the first player in program history to record 200 shots in a career.

SCOUTING MISSISSIPPI STATE

• Mississippi State begins it's second season under Aaron Gordon with an Aug. 13 exhibition at Memphis.

• The Bulldogs open the campaign officially Aug. 22 at home against Iowa State.

• MSU has six starters returning, including lone senior Shannen Jainudeen.

• The squad will be young, with 19 newcomers joining the squad.

ABOUT ALABAMA'S 2013 SEASON

• Alabama finished the 2013 campaign with a 6-12 record on the season and ranked 11th in the SEC with a record of 4-7.

• Junior forward Pia Rijsdijk finished the season leading the team with 18 points (7g, 4a). Rijsdijk had only one assists during the Tide's seven non-conference games, however, she collected all seven goals and three of her four assists during SEC play.

• Junior midfielder Theresa Diederich (3g, 2a) and senior midfielder Molly Atherton (2g, 4a) tied for second on the team with eight points apiece. Junior midfielder Laura Lee Smith (3g, 0a) and senior Kendall Khanna (2g, 2a) had six points.

• Sophomore midfielder Merel Van Dongen, who missed the majority of the 2013 season with a knee injury, had four goals in six games on the year before going down with the injury.

• Sophomore forward Katie Bourgeois led the squad with five assists on the season.

• Goalkeeper Emily Rusk earned the starting position in the net for the Crimson Tide early in the season and finished the year with a 6-10 record. She led the SEC with 5.06 saves per game (81 stops in 16 games).

• Alabama boasted only four seniors in 2013, while 14 members of the squad were either sophomores (5) or freshmen (9).

SEC PRESEASON WATCH LIST

• The Alabama soccer team had four players selected to the SEC Preseason Watch List: Seniors midfielders Merel Van Dongen and Theresa Diederich, senior forward Pia Rijsdijk and sophomore defender Auburn Mercer.

RIJSDIJK CLOSING LOOKS TO CEMENT NAME IN RECORD BOOKS

•Senior Pia Rijsdijk is closing in on the Alabama all-time shots record, which was set just last season by Molly Atherton (199 career shots).

• Rijsdijk will enter the 2014 season with 178 career shots, which ranks second in program history. She needs just 22 shots to not only capture the record, but also become the first player in program history to record 200 shots in a career.

• Furthermore, Rijsdijk's 78 career shots on goal ranks second in program history, 16 shots behind Libby Probst's school record of 94 career shots on goal.

• Rijsdijk also ranks among the program's top 10 in career points (currently 8th with 52 points on 19 goals and 14 assists) and career goals scored (10th with 19 goals).

SHE'S BACK!

• Senior Merel Van Dongen returns for her senior season after missing the final 12 games of last year with a knee injury. She injured the knee in mid-September training with the Netherlands Women's National Team.

• Van Dongen, who was named the Southeastern Conference Freshman of the Year and an second team All-SEC performer in 2012, scored four goals in the team's first six games a year ago, including a pair of game-winners.

• Despite missing the team's final 12 games, Van Dongen finished tied for second on the team with eight points and was second in both shot percentage (.267) and shots on goal percentage (.533).