Sept. 19, 2013
UPDATE: The Alabama-Florida game has been pushed back to an 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT) start.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama soccer team will open Southeastern Conference play when it squares off against No. 8 Florida on Friday night at 8 p.m. ET (7 p.m. CT) at James G. Pressley Stadium on the University of Florida campus.
Friday's contest will mark the third time in eight games this season the Crimson Tide (2-5, 0-0) will play a road game against a team ranked among the top 15 in the nation (at No. 6 Wake Forest on Aug. 25 and at No. 14 Denver on Sept. 8). Furthermore, Florida (6-1-1, 0-0) will be the sixth Alabama opponent who has two or fewer losses on the season.
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Friday night's contest will mark the 19th meeting in series history between Alabama and Florida - the fifth-most times the Tide has played any one opponent in program history. The Crimson Tide won its only game in the series last year, taking a 1-0 decision over then-No. 11 Florida at the Alabama Soccer Complex. The Gators own a 15-1-2 lead in the all-time series.
Head coach Todd Bramble has a record of 4-1 in SEC openers during his time at the Capstone.
Alabama has an all-time record of 0-6-1 when playing Florida in Gainesville, Fla.
Get all the latest information on the team by following @AlabamaSoccer on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. General athletic news can also be found @UA_Athletics on Twitter and Instagram and Alabama Athletics on Facebook
Alabama comes into Friday's match vs. No. 8 Florida with a 2-5 record on the season. Most recently, the Crimson Tide snapped a four-match losing streak with a 1-0 win over in-state rival UAB on Sunday.
Despite having nearly the same amount of total shots as the opposition for the year (109 for opponents and 108 for UA), the Crimson Tide has been outscored 15-4 through its seven games. Sophomore midfielder Merel Van Dongen has scored UA's four goals on the year, while true freshman Mia Jahr leads the squad with a pair of assists.
After missing the Tide's first three contests, sophomore forward Katie Bourgeois, the team's leading scorer from a year ago, made her return to the lineup on Sept. 6 vs. Colorado. The Katy, Texas, native suffered a knee injury last spring, which forced her to miss the first three games of the 2013 season.
Alabama returns 12 letterwinners and nine starters from last year's team.
The team boasts only four seniors in 2013, while 14 members of the squad are either sophomores (5) or freshmen (9).
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.
Florida enters SEC play with a 6-1-1 mark on the season. The Gators are ranked No. 8 in the nation in the latest National Soccer Coaches Association of America top-25 poll.
Leading the offensive attack is freshman Savannah Jordan who has accounted for eight goals on the year, including three multi-goal games. Jordan enters Friday's match leading the SEC and is ranked ninth in the nation in total goals.
Junior midfielder Havanna Solaun ranks second on the team in goals (4) and points (9), while junior defender Lauren Silver and junior midfielder Annie Speese share the team lead with four assists each.
Junior goalkeeper Taylor Burke has played the majority of time in the net for the Gators and maintains a 0.35 goals against average. She has made 14 saves and allowed two goals in the six contests she has played. Freshman Nora Neset Gjoen has started three of Florida's eight contests and has a 1.60 GAA.
ALABAMA ENDS NON-CONFERENCE PLAY ON HIGH NOTE
The Alabama soccer team defeated UAB, 1-0, in its final non-conference game of the season on Sunday night at the Alabama Soccer Complex.
Sophomore Merel Van Dongen scored the game-winning goal in the 86th minute of play when she drilled a header off a free kick from senior Kendall Khanna.
The Crimson Tide controlled the run of play from the opening whistle and finished the contest with a huge 28-8 advantage in shots, including an 9-1 edge in shots on goal.
SHUFFLING THE LINEUP
Through seven games this season, head coach Todd Bramble has used six different starting lineups. In fact, 20 of the 21 players to have seen playing time has earned at least one start.
The only UA player to have not started a game is freshman Lauren Collins, who played 27 minutes in the loss at Memphis on Friday night.
True freshman Noelle Sanz earned her first career start in the UAB game last Sunday. In doing so, she became the 10th Alabama player to earn the first start of their career this season.
FACING STIFF COMPETITION
Alabama is 2-5 to start the 2013 season, but has faced some tough opposition through its seven non-conference matches.
Two of the Tide's opponents are currently ranked in the nation's top 25 (No. 6 Wake Forest and No. 14 Denver), while a third team (Colorado) is receiving votes to be ranked.
Through Sunday's games, six of Alabama's seven opponents it has played have a winning record, with five teams (Wake Forest, 6-0-1; Denver, 7-0-0; Colorado, 6-1; UAB, 6-2 and Memphis, 5-2) having two or fewer losses on the year.
The combined record of the Tide's opposition thus far is 35-12-3 (.730).
SOPHOMORE CLASS STARTS VS. UAB
Alabama's highly-touted sophomore class all started together for the first time since stepping foot on campus in the Crimson Tide's 1-0 win over UAB last Sunday night.
The class consists of goalkeeper Emily Rusk, forward Katie Bourgeois, defender Abby Lutzenkirchen, and midfielders Merel Van Dongen and Kaylee Semelsberger.