Soccer Continues on the Road for Two SEC East Matches

ROLLTIDEDOTCOM Kendall Khanna leads the team into the weekend with nine points.
Kendall Khanna leads the team into the weekend with nine points.

Oct. 6, 2011


TUSCALOOSA, Ala. The Alabama soccer team (6-4-2, 1-2-1 SEC) continues conference play on the road, as the Crimson Tide head east to face South Carolina (8-5-0, 2-2-0 SEC) on Friday night at 7 p.m. ET, and then face the ninth ranked Florida (10-3-0, 3-1-0 SEC) on Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. The match against the Gators will air on ESPNU with Eamon McAnaney and Cat Whitehill calling the action.

Alabama moved west to the state of Mississippi, with mixed results. Despite missing head coach Todd Bramble and starting goal keeper Justine Bernier, the Tide finished with a 2-2 draw against Mississippi State. Sophomore Kendall Khanna and redshirt freshman Theresa Diederich scored both goals on the weekend for Alabama. On Sunday, the Crimson Tide got tripped up by Mississippi, losing 3-0 and dropping their record to 6-4-2 overall, and 1-2-1 in conference play.

The tandem of forwards Kendall Khanna and Theresa Diederich has been on a tear the past two weekends for the Tide. Diederich leads the team in scoring with four goals. Khanna leads the team in assists with three and in scoring with nine points. Khanna has tallied three points during conference play on a goal and an assist while Diederich has tallied four points on two goals during the league slate.

The Gamecocks enter the weekend with an 8-5-0 record and a 2-2-0 mark in SEC play. South Carolina split their two SEC matches this past weekend, losing 1-0 to Kentucky on Friday night, before bouncing back to knock off Vanderbilt, 3-0, on Sunday. Senior forward Kelsey Grimsley leads the Gamecocks in scoring, posting six goals and two assists for 14 points overall. South Carolina spreads the wealth as well, with three players having three assists apiece. In goal, the Gamecocks are led by freshman net-minder Sabrina D'Angelo. She has two shutouts on the year and has posted a 0.76 goals against average. South Carolina has advanced to the past four NCAA tournaments. In 2010, USC went 15-6-4, and lost to Virginia in the second round of the NCAA tournament, 3-0. The Gamecocks are led by Shelley Smith, who is in her 11th season as head coach, with a combined record of 156-106-30.

South Carolina leads the series 9-3, and won last year, 2-1, in Tuscaloosa on the strength of two Kelsey Grimsley penalty kicks. Lindsey Sillers scored the lone UA goal on an Ariel Armijo assist in the 38th minute. The Tide has won only once (1-5) in Columbia, a 5-4 victory in 1997.

The Gators enter the weekend with a 10-3-0 record overall, and a 3-1-0 mark in SEC play. Florida won both games this past weekend, topping Vanderbilt, 2-0, on Friday night and knocking off Kentucky, 3-0, on Sunday afternoon. The Gators have proven to be quite adept at scoring this season, having posted 34 goals in 13 matches. UF is led by forward Erika Tymrak with nine goals and 22 points. Three players have more than four assists on the season, led by Havana Solaun's five helpers. Taylor Burke and Brooke Chauncey have split time in goal this season. The duo has combined for seven shutouts and a combined 1.00 goals against average. The Gators are five-time defending SEC champions, and return eight starters from last year's team, which finished 19-2-3 overall and 9-1-1 in SEC play. The Gators lost in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Florida is led by Becky Burleigh, who is in her 17th season as head coach, posting a 283-72-26 record with the Gators.

Florida leads the series 13-0-2. Last season's match was a 1-1 tie in Tuscaloosa, just the second time the Tide has earned a result against the Gators. In a thrilling match, Brooke Rogers scored in the final seconds of regulation to send the match to overtime and eventually to the draw. UA goalkeeper Justine Bernier made 10 saves in the match. The Tide has scored just nine goals overall against the Gators, and only three times in Gainesville.

The Alabama soccer team has had goals scored from all over its roster. The Crimson Tide has had nine different players score in 2011 for a combined total of 18 goals. The nine different goal scorers are the most since Alabama had 10 players find the stat sheet in 2008. During that 2008 campaign, the Tide found the back of the net 25 times. The 18 goals this season with seven regular season matches remaining is just two off the total from last season and surpassed the total of 14 from 2009.

The Alabama starting defense that features five upperclassmen, including four seniors has been the core to the success in 2011. The Crimson Tide has allowed one goal or less in eight of the 12 matches this season, including four shutouts. Alabama has had two different streaks of allowing one goal or less in four straight matches. The Tide went 6-2-1 over that span.

The duo of juniors Kaitlyn Smith and Ashley Willis have made an immediate and lasting impact on the Crimson Tide. Since first setting foot on campus at the Capstone, the duo has both started every single match that Alabama has been a part of. As true freshmen, the duo both started all 18 matches, with Willis leading the team in minutes played (1644). The tandem also started all 18 matches in 2010 and thus far in 2011 has started all 12 matches. Molly Atherton and K.K. Duffy have started every match over the last two seasons.

In the initial RPI rankings for the 2011 season the Crimson Tide ranked 38th overall. Alabama enters this week ranked No. 78. The Tide has already faced three teams in the top-50 (Memphis - 8, Kentucky - 10, Vanderbilt - 50), and will play five more, including No. 2 Florida in the near future. Florida, Auburn (15) and LSU (18) currently reside in the RPI top 25.

Justine Bernier leads the SEC in save percentage with a .868 average and in saves per game with 5.90.

Alabama goalkeeper Justine Bernier has already etched her name in the record books in numerous categories and is looking for more in her final season at the Capstone. Bernier earned her 25th career victory (Sept. 23, Vanderbilt) in goal, moving her into sole possession of second place in the career annals. Tide great Amy Pseja holds the record with 30 career wins. Bernier has extended her career records in saves (383) and shutouts (18).

The Tide returns to the Alabama Soccer Complex for two home SEC matches. On Friday, the Tide plays a televised game against Arkansas at 7 p.m. The game will air on Fox Sports South. On Sunday, Alabama welcomes SEC Western division leader LSU to Tuscaloosa for a 1 p.m., kickoff.