Oct. 24, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Alabama will play its final road matches of the season with a pair of SEC contests this weekend. The Crimson Tide will first make a trip to Starkville, Miss., where it will square off at Mississippi State on Friday night at 7 p.m. CT. Following that contest, Alabama will travel to meet No. 23 Ole Miss on Sunday at 1 p.m. CT. That match will be televised on Fox SportsSouth and can also be seen on ESPN3.com.
FOLLOW THE TIDE
Fans can watch/follow this weekend's matches via the below outlets:
Watch: Friday: HailState.com and Sunday: Fox SportsSouth/ESPN3.com
• Alabama and Mississippi State will meet for the 19th time in series history with the Tide owning a 10-5-3 edge in the all-time series. Alabama had come into last year's match owning a four-game unbeaten streak against the Bulldogs, but dropped a 3-2 decision in Tuscaloosa. The Tide boasts a 5-2-2 record when playing at Mississippi State, including a 2-0-1 mark in its last three trips to Starkville.
• Alabama and Ole Miss will meet for the 20th time in series history, with the Rebels owning a 12-7 lead in the series. The Rebels have won seven of the last eight matches against the Crimson Tide and have won seven consecutive games when playing Alabama in Oxford, Miss. The last time Alabama won at Ole Miss came on Sept. 28, 1997.
• Sunday's match at Ole Miss will be televised live on Fox SportsSouth and ESPN3.com. Pete Pranica (play-by-play) and Katie Witham (analyst) will be on the call.
• Alabama comes into this weekend's Southeastern Conference matches with a 5-10 record on the season and is in 10th in league play with nine points (3-5). The Crimson Tide dropped a pair of home matches to ranked teams last weekend, falling 3-0 to then-No. 27/24 Texas A&M on Oct. 18 and 4-2 to then-No. 23/14 Kentucky on Oct. 20
• Junior forward Pia Rijsdijk, who was tabbed the SEC Offensive Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 30, leads the team with 12 points (5g, 2a). Junior midfielders Laura Lee Smith (3g, 0a) and Therese Diederich (2g, 2a) and senior midfielder Molly Atherton (2g, 2a) are tied for second on the team with six points each.
• Sophomore midfielder Merel Van Dongen, who will miss the remainder of the 2013 season with an injury, had four goals on the year in six games before going down with the injury.
• Sophomore Katie Bourgeois leads the squad with four assists on the season.
• Goalkeeper Emily Rusk has earned the starting position in the net for the Crimson Tide, owning a 5-8 record on the year. She has a 2.26 goals against average and ranks second in the SEC with 5.00 saves per game (65 stops in 13 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 MISSISSIPPI STATE
• Mississippi State comes into the weekend with a 3-12 overall record and an 0-8 mark in SEC play. The Bulldogs have dropped eight consecutive league matches, most recently falling to Vanderbilt, 5-3, in Nashville, Tenn., on Oct. 20.
• The Bulldogs are led on the year by senior forward Elisabeth Sullivan, who has accounted for 14 of her team's 21 goals on the year. She leads the team in goals, points (30), shots (73) and shots on goal (51). Sullivan enters the Alabama match ranked among the league leaders in goals (T-3rd), shots (3rd) and points (4th) for the season.
• Freshman forward Annebel ten Broeke ranks second on the team with three goals and 12 points, while leading the squad with six assists on the season.
• Senior goalkeeper C.J. Winship has played the majority of time in the net for the Bulldogs this season. She has a 3.02 goals against average, making 54 stops while allowing 32 goals on the year.
SCOUTING OLE MISS
• Ole Miss comes into the weekend riding a four-game unbeaten streak and has lost only two games over the last 11 matches (8-2-1). The Rebels are currently ranked No. 23 in the NSCAA top-25 poll.
• The Rebels will face Texas A&M in College Station, Texas on Friday night before returning home to square off against the Crimson Tide on Sunday.
• As a team, Ole Miss enters the game leading the league in shot percentage (.160) and corner kicks (141) and ranks second in goals scored (42), goals per game (2.47) and total points (111).
• Senior forward Rafaelle Souza and senior midfielder Mandy McCalla lead the Rebels offensive attack this season. Souza tops the squad in goals (14), assists (6), points (34), shots (60) and shots on goal (30). Meanwhile, McCalla is second in each category with 11 goals, four assists and 24 points. She also leads the team with five game-winning goals.
• Junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick has played all but 71 minutes in the net for the Rebels this season. She maintains a 0.95 goals against average which ranks sixth in the SEC.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Senior midfielder Molly Atherton currently has 194 shots and needs only six more to become the first player in Alabama program history to record 200 shots in a career ... Atherton has 38 shots on the year and needs 10 more to land in the top 10 for shots in a season ... As a team, Alabama has scored 16 goals over its last seven games ... The Tide finds itself among the SEC's offensive leaders in league games only, leading the league in shot percentage (.184), is second in shots on goal percentage (.471), is tied for fourth in the league in goals scored (16), goals per game (2.00), points (47) and points per game (5.88) and ranks fifth in assists (15) and assists per game (1.88) when playing against SEC competition.
FACING STIFF COMPETITION
• Alabama is 5-10 on the 2013 season and 3-5 in Southeastern Conference play. That record may be a little deceiving when breaking down the Crimson Tide's schedule through its 15 matches.
• Six of the Tide's opponents are currently ranked in the nation's top 25 (Wake Forest, Florida, Denver, South Carolina, Kentucky and Texas A&M).
• Through Sunday's games, 13 of Alabama's 15 opponents it has played have a winning record.
• The combined record of the Tide's opposition thus far is 145-76-21 (.643), while the 10 teams who have defeated Alabama is a combined 109-32-12 (.752).
ALABAMA SUFFERS PAIR OF HOME LOSSES LAST WEEKEND
• Playing against ranked teams in back-to-back contests, the Alabama soccer team fell to No. 27/23 Texas A&M, 3-0, on Oct. 18 and No. 23/14 Kentucky, 4-2, on Oct. 20 at the Alabama Soccer Complex.
• The Crimson Tide has played ranked teams in four of its last five matches, including three straight games heading into action this weekend.
ROAD TO ORANGE BEACH
• Despite the setbacks over the weekend, Alabama is still in position to finish among the top 10 SEC teams to earn a trip to the league tournament in Orange Beach, Ala., which will take place Nov. 4-10.
• With a nine points in the SEC standings on the strength of three wins, the Crimson Tide is currently in 10th place. However, Alabama is only three points out of seventh place Arkansas (12 points).
• The Crimson Tide has three games remaining on its regular-season schedule, including contests at Mississippi State (0-8 SEC) and at No. 23 Ole Miss (5-2-1 SEC) this weekend, followed by a home match vs. Auburn (0-5-3 SEC) on Oct. 31.
• Through its first eight games, the Alabama offense 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.
• However, in the last seven games, the Tide has accounted for 16 goals on 82 shots, with nine different players finding the back of the net.