Soccer Set for Season Opener



Aug. 16, 2012

Match 1 |  Alabama (0-0-0) at Kennesaw State (0-0-0)

Friday, August 17, 6 p.m. CT

Location Kennesaw, Ga. | KSU Stadium (8,300)
Tickets General Admission | $6
Television None
Radio None
Live Stats GameTracker
Game Notes Alabama Notes Get Acrobat Reader | Kennesaw State Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Video Stream ASun.TV
Series Record

1-1 | Last Meeting, UA 7 - KSU 1 | Aug. 19, 2011

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Under the direction of fifth-year head coach Todd Bramble, the Alabama soccer team will officially open the 2012 season on Friday night with a road match against the Kennesaw State Owls. The match is set for a 6 p.m. CT, kickoff at KSU Stadium.

Alabama sophomore forward Pia Rijsdijk and sophomore midfielder Theresa Diederich were a formidable duo in 2011, as they combined for 12 goals and five assists and were named to the SEC All-Freshman Team. The two return in 2012 looking to provide the offense again and help the Crimson Tide return to the postseason.

Kennesaw State went 7-8-2 in 2011 and it returns six starters from that squad this fall. Two of the returning starters are all-conference honorees in Katrina Frost and co-captain Jewelia Strickland. Frost, who led the Owls in scoring last year with 24 points on 11 goals and two assists, was a second team all-conference selection. Strickland, who was the backbone of the KSU defense in 2011, was named to the A-Sun All-Freshman team. Head coach Rob King enters his 11th season at the helm of KSU; with a mark of 135-42-15 at the school and a 180-81-20 record overall.

The two teams have only met twice, with Kennesaw State pulling out a 3-2 victory in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 7, 2007, while last year’s meeting saw Alabama score 32 seconds into the game en route to a 7-1 victory. The seven goals was tied for the most ever for the Tide in a season opener as Theresa Diederich scored twice and Kendall Khanna added a goal and two assists to lead Alabama,

Alabama enters the 2012 campaign with a 12-4-1 overall record in season openers. Alabama is 2-1-1 in openers under Bramble, including a 7-1 win over Kennesaw State last season in Tuscaloosa. At home, the Tide is 7-1 in season opening games. The largest win on opening night came in a 7-0 victory over Alabama A&M in 2004.

Alabama only played one exhibition match this preseason, dropping a 1-0 decision on the road at Clemson. The Tigers scored the game’s lone goal with two seconds left to earn the win. The Tide did get a good look at its depth as 18 players found the field at Historic Riggs Field.

Alabama put together one its better offensive seasons in recent years by scoring 33 goals last season. Most of the scoring came from underclassmen as five of the top six scorers were either freshmen or sophomores. With that young group the Tide returns 94 percent of its goals from a year ago. Theresa Diederich led the way with seven goals while Kendall Khanna and Pia Rijsdijk scored five goals apiece.

Alabama newcomer Abby Lutzenkirchen garnered some preseason recognition as she was tabbed the SEC Women’s Soccer Preseason Freshman of the Year by Lutzenkirchen comes to Tuscaloosa as one of the highest rated recruits in the country, prepping at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Ga. The midfielder has been a part of the U.S. youth national team pool since U-15.

Alabama finished 2011 with a 10-9-3 record and its first NCAA tournament berth since 1998. The Crimson Tide won its first SEC tournament game since 2004 and advanced to the SEC tournament semifinals for the first time since 1998. Alabama defeated three ranked teams in a season for the first time ever, as well as both regular season conference champions South Carolina and SEC tournament winners Auburn. Alabama returns eight starters and 14 letterwinners from last season's squad.

The Alabama soccer team was picked to finish fourth in the SEC Western Division as voted upon by the conference coaches. Newcomer Texas A&M was tabbed as the division champion as LSU and Auburn were picked to finish second and third, respectively. Overall, Florida was predicted as the league champions, claiming 10 first-place votes, topping Texas A&M's four votes.

The SEC unveiled its soccer coach’s preseason watch list. The Alabama soccer team had four players selected as sophomores Theresa Diederich and Pia Rijsdijk, junior Molly Atherton and senior Ashley Willis were selected to the list. Diederich led the Tide with seven goals and was tied for the team lead with 15 points while Rijsdijk closely followed with14 points on five goals and four assists. Atherton paced the squad with three game-winning goals, totaling 10 points on four goals and two assists. Willis returns with the most minutes played of all starters last season and added 10 points on three goals and four assists from the backline.

Alabama will return to Tuscaloosa to open the home portion of its schedule when the Tide hosts the Samford Bulldogs on Friday, August 24, with kickoff at 6 p.m. The Crimson Tide defeated the Bulldogs, 2-1, on the strength of two goals from Laura Lee Smith.