Sep 5, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama soccer team will travel to Denver, Colo., this weekend to compete at the 2013 Denver Invitational. The Tide will have a formidable challenge as it faces a pair of undefeated teams in Colorado (4-0) on Friday at 5:30 p.m. CT (4:30 p.m. MT) and tournament-host No. 20 Denver (4-0) on Sunday at 2:15 p.m. CT (1:15 p.m. MT).
FOLLOW THE TIDE ONLINE
Fans can watch/follow this weekend's matches via the below outlets:
Watch/Listen: DenverPioneers.com (Sunday's Game Only)
Friday's contest vs. Colorado will mark the fourth time in program history that Alabama has squared off on the pitch against the Buffaloes. Colorado holds a 2-1 all-time lead in the series and have won two straight over the Crimson Tide. The last meeting came on Aug. 27, 2006, when Colorado captured a 4-1 win in Nashville, Tenn. UA's lone victory in the series came in the first meeting back on Sept. 18, 1998 when the Tide earned a 3-0 victory in Tuscaloosa.
Alabama and Denver will meet for the second time in program history when the two teams square off on Sunday afternoon. Ironically, the only meeting between the two programs came in the same tournament Alabama played against Colorado back in 2006 in Nashville, Tenn., with the Crimson Tide capturing a 4-0 victory over the Pioneers.
Alabama returns nine starters and 12 letterwinners off last season's squad, which includes its top six goal-scorers. In fact, the returning players combined to score 34 of the team's 37 goals and totaled 91 of the 109 total points in 2012.
Alabama comes into this weekend's games with a 1-2 record on the season. The Tide defeated Georgia State, 2-1, in overtime last Friday and fell to Mercer, 2-1, on Sunday. UA's other defeat came in the season opener to then-No. 15 Wake Forest (3-0 in Winston Salem, N.C.).
Alabama returns 12 letterwinners and nine starters from last year's team.
The team boasts only four seniors in 2013, while 15 members of the squad are either sophomores (5) or freshmen (10).
The Crimson Tide returns its top six scorers from last season in terms of points and goals scored. Highlighting the list of returning scorers is junior Pia Rijsdijk (7g, 6a/20 pts), sophomore Katie Bourgeois (8g, 3a/19 pts), senior Molly Atherton (6g, 4a/16 pts) and junior Theresa Diederich (7g, 1a/15 pts).
Other top scorers returning include sophomore Merel Van Dongen (3g, 3a/9 pts) and senior Kendal Khanna (1g, 5a/7 pts).
Alabama finished the 2012 season with a school record 357 total shots on the season. Furthermore, UA's 155 shots on goal (3rd), 1.95 goals per game average (7th) and 37 goals (9th) all rank among the top-10 in program lore.
SCOUTING FRIDAY'S OPPONENT: COLORADO BUFFALOES
Colorado comes into Friday night's contest sporting a perfect 4-0 record on the season. In fact, the Buffaloes have yet to give a up a goal, outscoring their opponents by a combined total of 8-0 on the year.
Colorado has set a new school record by shutting out its first four opponents to start a season - the first such occurrence in program history.
Leading the offensive attack is freshman forward Brie Hooks. The rookie has made an immediate impact, scoring five of the team's eight goals thus far, which includes two game-winners. She has already recorded a pair of multi-goal games, accounting for two goals in 16 minutes off the bench vs. Northern Colorado and scoring both goals in the Buffaloes 2-0 win over Saint Mary's on Sept. 1.
Senior forward Anne Stuller leads the team in assists (3) and is second in goals (2) and points (7).
Senior goalkeeper Annie Brunner has not allowed a goal in 360 consecutive minutes to start the season, while making 12 saves in Colorado's four matches.
SCOUTING SUNDAY'S OPPONENT: NO. 20 DENVER PIONEERS
Like Colorado, Denver has also started the 2013 season with four wins in its first four contests, outscoring the competition, 10-3.
The Pioneers began the season ranked No. 25 in the country by the NSCAA, and jumped five spots to No. 20 in this week's top-25 poll.
Senior forward Kristen Hamilton leads the offensive attack with 10 points on three goals and four assists - both team highs. Hamilton also has a team-leading two game-winning goals on the year. Senior midfielder Nicholette Digiacomo ranks second on the team with three goals and six points.
Freshman goalkeeper Cassidy Ray has played all but nine minutes in the net this season for Denver. She has a 0.75 goals against average, making 25 saves on the year.
CAPTURING A SCHOOL RECORD
With her three shots against Mercer last Sunday, senior Molly Atherton captured the school record for total shots in a career with 165. In doing so, she passed the former record of 164 career shots, which was held by Melissa McGee (1997-2000). Athreton's nine shots this season rank second on the team.
Atherton recorded 61 shots in 2012, which ranks fifth in program history, while her 55 shots in 2011 is sixth-most in a season.
Atherton has started all 62 contests of her collegiate career.
PICKING UP WHERE SHE LEFT OFF
Sophomore midfielder Merel Van Dongen has picked up right where she left off last season when she became the first Alabama player to earn SEC Freshman of the Year honors, while also collecting second team all-conference and all-district accolades.
Van Dongen has scored all three goals this season for the Crimson Tide, including the game-winning tally on a penalty kick in overtime vs. Georgia State (8/30).
The Amsterdam, Netherlands native has been the most efficient player on the UA squad, recording seven shots with five coming on frame (.714 shots on goal percentage). Three of her five shots on goal have found the back of the net (.429 shooting percentage).