Oct. 3, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama soccer team will play a home and away game against a pair of Southeastern Conference opponents this weekend. The Tide will first travel to Athens, Ga., where it will square off against the Georgia Bulldogs on Friday night at 7 p.m. ET (6 p.m. CT). Following that match, the Tide will return home where it will welcome the LSU Tigers on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT.
FOLLOW THE TIDE
Fans can watch/follow this weekend's matches via the below outlets:
Listen: RollTide.com; 90.7 WVUA FM (Sunday's game only)
Watch: GeorgiaDogs.com - Friday's game | RollTide.com - Sunday's game
ALABAMA VS.LSU (SUNDAY AT 1 P.M.)
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Georgia comes into Friday's match against Alabama with an 11-4-1 lead in the all-time series. However, the Tide has not lost to the Bulldogs since the 2010 campaign. Alabama tied Georgia, 2-2, in Athens, Ga., in 2011 and defeated the Bulldogs, 2-1, in Tuscaloosa last season.
Alabama leads its all-time series with LSU, 9-6-3, coming into Sunday's match-up. However, the Crimson Tide has not defeated the Tigers since a 3-1 win back in 2005. Since then, LSU has gone 5-0-2 against Alabama, including a 1-1 draw last year in Baton Rouge, La.
Alabama comes into this weekend's Southeastern Conference matches with a 4-6 record on the season and is tied for second with six points and a 2-1 mark in league play. The Crimson Tide is coming off a pair of home wins over Vanderbilt on Sept. 27 (5-2) and Tennessee on Sept. 29 (4-2).
Despite having won just four of its first 10 matches against some stellar competition, the Tide has an RPI of No. 77 in the nation according to the latest edition of the NCAA RPI (released Sept. 30). Alabama has faced three teams ranked among the top 25 and another receiving votes to be ranked.
Sophomore midfielder Merel Van Dongen, who will miss the remainder of the 2013 season with an injury, leads Alabama with four goals on the year. Reigning SEC Offensive Player of the Week Pia Rijsdijk is second on the team with seven points (3g, 1a) while junior midfielder Laura Lee Smith has scored three goals.
Sophomore Katie Bourgeois and true freshman Mia Jahr have each recorded a pair of assists to lead the team in that category.
Goalkeeper Emily Rusk has earned the starting position in the net for the Crimson Tide, owning a 4-4 record on the year. She has a 2.07 goals against average and leads the SEC with 5.50 saves per game (44 stops in eight games).
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).
SCOUTING FRIDAY'S OPPONENT: GEORGIA BULLDOGS
Georgia comes into its match-up with Alabama sporting a 9-2 overall mark and is 2-1 in SEC play. The Bulldogs had a school-record nine-game winning streak snapped last Sunday with a 1-0 loss at No. 25 Kentucky.
Georgia enters the weekend with an RPI of No. 17 in the nation and is ranked No. 20 in Soccer America and No. 24 in Soccer Times, while also receiving votes in the NSCAA Coaches Poll.
Leading the offensive attack is freshman forward Marion Crowder, who tops the squad in goals (8), game-winning goals (5) and points (17). She ranks seventh in the SEC in goals and points. Senior midfielder Madeline Barker is second on the team with eight points (3g, 2a), while freshman forward Rachel Garcia has seven points (2g, 3a).
Senior goalkeeper Caitlin Woody has played every minute in the net for Georgia this season. Her 0.36 goals against average is tied for the league lead. She has made 35 saves while only allowing four goals on the year.
SCOUTING SUNDAY'S OPPONENT: LSU TIGERS
LSU comes into the weekend sporting a 6-3-2 overall record and is the only unbeaten team in SEC play with a 2-0-1 record against league competition. The Tigers, who will play at Arkansas on Friday night, have played three consecutive overtime matches in league play. Last week, LSU tied Tennessee, 1-1, on Sept. 27, followed by a 3-2 overtime win against Mississippi State on Sept. 29.
Sophomore midfielder Fernanda Pina leads the team with four goals on the season. Pina, along with freshman forward Summer Clarke (3g, 2a) and freshman midfielder Emma Fletcher (1g, 6a), share the team lead with eight points each on the year.
Senior goalkeeper Megan Kinneman has played all but six minutes in the net for LSU this season. She has a 1.21 GAA, making 40 saves while allowing 14 goals on the year.
FACING STIFF COMPETITION
Alabama is 4-6 to start the 2013 season, but has faced some tough opposition through its 10 matches on the year.
Three of the Tide's opponents are currently ranked in the nation's top 25 (No. 8 Florida, No. 9 Wake Forest and No. 19 Denver), while a fourth team (Colorado) is receiving votes to be ranked.
As of Oct. 5, eight of Alabama's 10 opponents it has played have a winning record, with six teams having three or fewer losses on the year (Wake Forest, 8-2-1; Colorado, 9-1; Denver, 9-1-1; UAB, 8-3; Florida, 8-2-1 and Tennessee, 6-3-2).
The Crimson Tide's 10 opponents on the year have a combined record of 67-36-9 (.638). Furthermore, the six teams who have defeated the Tide are a combined 47-15-4 (.742).
LAST TIME OUT
The Alabama soccer team erupted for three first half goals and held on to defeat Tennessee, 4-2, on Sept. 29 at the Alabama Soccer Complex.
It marked the Crimson Tide's second Southeastern Conference win of the weekend (UA defeated Vanderbilt, 5-2, on Sept. 27) to improve to 4-6 on the year and 2-1 in SEC play.
Senior Molly Atherton began the offensive onslaught in the opening half when she found the back of the net just 5:34 into the game to stake her team to an early 1-0 lead. It marked her first goal of the season. The score stayed that way until the 28:39 mark when Laura Lee Smith scored on a penalty kick, which was her third goal of the season. Just over two minutes later, junior Pia Rijsdijk added to the lead with her third tally of the year off an assist from Katie Bourgeois to give Alabama a commanding 3-0 lead.
Tennessee would battle back in the second half, cutting the Tide lead to 3-2 on a pair of goals by Amy Neal in the 54th and 63rd minutes of play.
However, senior Kendall Khanna would put the game away with her first goal of the season in the 70th minute to result in the final score.
Sophomore goalkeeper Emily Rusk made four saves on the afternoon en route to picking up her fourth win of the year.
RIJSDIJK EARNS NATIONAL ACCOLADES
Alabama junior forward Pia Rijsdijk continues to earn accolades for her performance on the pitch last week. On Tuesday, the Numansdorp, Netherlands, native was selected to the TopDrawerSoccer.com National Team of the Week and CollegeSoccer360.com Primetime Performers Weekly Honor Roll.
That recognition comes after Rijsdijk earned the Southeastern Conference Offensive Player of the Week award on Monday.
Rijsdijk helped lead Alabama to a pair of wins over Vanderbilt and Tennessee last weekend, scoring three goals in the two matches.
Rijsdijk recorded her first goals of the year in the win over Vanderbilt on Sept. 27, finding the back of the net two times to help lead the Tide to a 5-2 victory. On Sept. 29, Rijsdijk kept the momentum going by scoring in the 31st minute for what would be the eventual game-winning tally in the Tide's 4-2 win over the Lady Vols.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN HOME AND AWAY
Alabama improved to 4-1 in home games this season with the two wins over the weekend.
When looking further at the numbers, the Crimson Tide has outscored the opposition by a count of 13-7 in the five matches played at the Alabama Soccer Complex. However, the Tide has been outscored, 15-0, in its five road matches.
OPEN THE FLOOD GATES
Prior to the games last weekend, the Alabama offense had struggled, scoring only four goals in 113 shots. In fact, only one player (Merel Van Dongen) had scored all four of the Tide's goals through the first eight matches.
Last weekend, the Tide accounted for nine goals on 27 shots in a pair of SEC wins, with five different players finding the back of the net.
THAT'S A LOT OF GOALS
Alabama's five goals in the win over Vanderbilt marked the most goals against an SEC opponent since Oct. 28, 2005 when the Tide defeated Auburn, 6-3.
The nine goals in back-to-back SEC games are the most scored in consecutive games against league opponents since Alabama scored 10 goals in back-to-back games in 1997 (defeated Arkansas, 5-3, and South Carolina, 5-4).