Soccer to Start Conference Play At Tennessee

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Head coach Todd Bramble leads his squad into SEC play this weekend.
Head coach Todd Bramble leads his squad into SEC play this weekend.

Sept. 13, 2012

Match 7 |  Alabama (5-1-0) at No. 23 Tennessee (5-1-1)
Date Friday, Sept. 14, 6 p.m. CT
Location Knoxville, Tenn. | Regal Soccer Stadium (3,000)
Tickets General Admission | $5
Television None
Radio WVUA 90.7 FM
Live Stats GameTracker
Game Notes Alabama Notes Get Acrobat ReaderTennessee Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Video Stream UTSportsAllAccess
Series Record 3-9-1 | Last Meeting, UA 1 - UT 0 | Oct. 20, 2011
Match 8 |  Alabama (5-1-0) at LSU (4-1-2)
Date Sunday, Sept. 16, 1 p.m. CT
Location Baton Rouge, La. | LSU Soccer Stadium (2,197)
Tickets General Admission | Free
Television CSS
Radio WVUA 90.7 FM
Live Stats GameTracker
Game Notes Alabama Notes Get Acrobat ReaderLSU Notes Get Acrobat Reader
Video Stream
Series Record 9-6-2 | Last Meeting, LSU 2 - UA 0 | Oct. 16, 2011

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – The Alabama soccer (5-1-0) looks to bounce back from its first loss of the season as the Crimson Tide begin Southeastern Conference play with No. 23 Tennessee (5-1-1) and LSU (4-1-2) this weekend. Alabama travels to Knoxville to play the Lady Vols on Friday, September 14, at 6 p.m. The Crimson Tide then travels to Baton Rouge to play the Tigers at 1 p.m. CT on Sunday, September 16. The match against LSU will air on CSS and can be viewed on

Alabama finished up its nonconference portion of the schedule as they welcomed ACC powerhouse Maryland to the Alabama Soccer Stadium on Thursday night. In front of a school record 1,630 fans, the Crimson Tide and the Terrapins provided an entertaining evening, though the Tide dropped the thriller, 2-1, thanks to a late goal by the Terrapins. Maryland got started early, going on the counter attack at the three minute mark of the first half, and Becky Kaplan chipped junior goalie Shelby Church to give Maryland the 1-0 lead 3:13 into the game. Just 23 seconds later, Alabama earned a free kick and freshman Merel Van Dongen headed in the Meghan Duffy cross to tie it up at 1-1. The game was a back-and-forth affair until Kaplan was able to latch on to a through ball late, cut in on two defenders, and slide her shot to the back post to give Maryland the 2-1 advantage with just over 90 seconds remaining in the match that they would not relinquish.

Alabama’s transfer goalie Shelby Church had large shoes to fill when she earned the starting job this fall, as former Alabama goalie Justine Bernier set numerous school records in her four year career, but Church has not missed a beat in her six starts so far. Playing behind a rebuilt back line, Church has allowed just three goals in six games and has posted a 0.54 goals against average with two solo shutouts and two combined shutouts in 2012. With conference play starting, look for Church to continue to stay solid in the back to continue the Crimson Tide’s winning ways.

Tennessee enters Friday’s match against Alabama with a 5-1-1 record on the year. This past weekend, the Lady Vols traveled west to play against Cal State Northridge and second ranked UCLA. UT played Cal State-Northridge to a 0-0 draw on Friday night, outshooting the Matadors, 26-11, but could not find the net in the 110 minute affair. On Sunday, the Lady Vols traveled to Westwood, Calif., to go up against the second ranked UCLA Bruins. After 53 scoreless minutes, UCLA was able knock in a rebound against UT goalie Julie Eckel for the game’s only goal, as the Bruins won, 1-0. The goal snapped a 433:23 shutout streak for Tennessee, a school record. The Lady Vols are led by senior midfielder Amy Harrison, who has eight points on four goals, and junior forward Caroline Brown, who has eight points as well, on two goals and four assists. Eckel leads the team with a 0.29 goals against average, with 20 saves and four solo shutouts in 2012. The Volunteers are led by head coach Brian Pensky, who is in his first season at Knoxville after coaching at Maryland for seven seasons and went 67-52-20. Pensky also earned the 2010 Soccer America National Coach of the Year Award while at Maryland.

The Tigers of LSU enter the weekend with a 4-1-2 record overall, including a 3-1-2 mark at the LSU Soccer Stadium, where the Tigers play 10 of their first 11 matches. This past weekend, LSU went 1-0-1 against Florida International and Memphis. On Friday night, the Tigers played 110 scoreless minutes against FIU, getting two huge saves on breakaways by junior goalkeeper Megan Kinneman in the first overtime to preserve the shutout. On Sunday, Kinneman was huge again, coming up with 10 saves, including a penalty kick, in the 2-1 win over Memphis. LSU is led by a pair of freshman midfielders. Heather Magee, who has five points on two goals and an assist, and Fernanda Pina, who has five points as well, on one goal and three assists, lead the Tigers in scoring. Sophomore Kaley Blades and Pina lead the team with 17 shots apiece. Kinneman has earned the start in all seven matches, with 32 saves and a 0.65 goals against average. LSU is led by head coach Brian Lee, who has gone 79-47-25 in Baton Rouge and his Tigers have won four of the past five SEC West championships.

Tennessee: Tennessee has dominated the series against Alabama, leading the series 9-3-1. The three wins for Alabama is deceiving, however, as the Crimson Tide won the first two meetings between the schools, then lost nine out of the next 10 meetings, with a tie in 2008 the only result for Alabama. Last year saw the tables turn for Alabama, as the Crimson Tide snapped the winless streak with a 1-0 over the Lady Vols in Tuscaloosa, behind an early first half strike by Pia Rijsdijk.

LSU: The two teams have faced off 17 times going into this weekend’s match, with Alabama holding a 9-6-2 lead in the series. Since Brian Lee took over at LSU, Alabama has gone just 2-5-1 against LSU and hasn’t won since 2005. In last year’s meeting, LSU scored just before halftime to take the lead and tacked on an insurance goal late in the match to defeat Alabama, 2-0, in the Power of Pink game in Tuscaloosa. LSU outshot Alabama, 21-5, with Pia Rijsdijk taking four of those shots for the Tide.

Alabama’s 5-0-0 start was the best start for the Crimson Tide in the five years under head coach Todd Bramble, and is tied for first in school history for the first five games of the season. The 1994 and 2001 teams both started with a perfect record through five games as well. The best start in school history came in the 1994 season as the Tide raced out to a 7-0-0 mark. The 5-1 nonconference record is the best since 2005 entering conference play.

Alabama is near the top of several categories in the Southeastern Conference. The Crimson Tide is third overall in total shots (136) and points (59), despite playing one fewer game than the two teams ahead of them.  UA is second in goals (20) and goals per game (3.33), trailing Ole Miss in both categories but have played one fewer game. Alabama is third in assists (19) and is tied for second in goals allowed, having given up just three goals on the year. Alabama goalkeepers have combined for four shutouts, tied for second in the SEC.

Freshman Katie Bourgeois is tied for third with 14 points on the year and is second with 2.33 points per game. Bourgeois enters the weekend third in the conference with six goals and tied for the lead in goals per game (1.00). Ariel Armijo is second in assists with four in her five appearances, putting her tied for second in assists per game (0.80).

Alabama is seventh nationally in scoring per game, averaging 3.33 goals per contest, and its 0.50 goals against average is 27th nationally. Freshman Katie Bourgeois is 15th in the country with 2.33 points per game, and her average of a goal per game is ninth overall in the nation. Bourgeois’ six goals on the year is 18th in the NCAA, and her 14 total points is 21st.

The Crimson Tide enters the weekend with a 108-56-11 overall record in Tuscaloosa. Alabama posted a 7-3-1 mark in 2011. Alabama has only posted three losing seasons on its home pitch and posted a school record nine wins in 1996 and was a perfect 6-0 in 1995. The Tide has won five or more matches at home in a season on 16 occasions. UA is 2-0 in 2012.

Alabama has enjoyed success in nonconference matches under head coach Todd Bramble. In the midst of year five under Bramble, the Tide sports a 23-12-2 nonconference record. In the four completed seasons, Alabama has earned five or more wins three times, while earning four in 2009. After defeating Mercer on Sunday, Alabama has gone 5-1-0 against nonconference opponents this season as well. UA has sported a winning record under its current manager every season against non-conference opponents.

2012: 5-1-0
: 6-4-1
2010: 5-2-0
2009: 4-3-0
2008: 5-2-1

Alabama entered the 2012 season with some fresh faces in the starting 11. Against Kennesaw State, head coach Todd Bramble started five newcomers, including four freshmen. Junior transfer Shelby Church earned the shutout in goal while rookie Katie Bourgeois scored the lone goal. Fellow freshmen Abby Lutzenkirchen, Kaylee Semelsberger and Merel Van Dongen got the starting nods as well.

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. In 2012 Alabama is off to another offensive season, entering the weekend with 20 goals. Of the 20 goals, 14 have been scored by underclassmen.

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.

WVUA-FM will expand its coverage of Alabama Soccer in the 2012 season, covering both home and away matches this season the station announced. This will mark the first time the student-run station has aired all matches since it first broadcast Crimson Tide soccer in 2003. Josh Zavadil will return behind the mic for his second season as the voice of UA soccer.

Alabama will return to Tuscaloosa to continue SEC play as it welcomes Georgia and Mississippi to the Alabama Soccer Stadium. Georgia comes to town on Friday, September 21, with kickoff starting at 7 p.m. CT. Alabama and Mississippi will face off on Sunday, September 23, with kickoff coming at 1 p.m. CT.