Oct. 30, 2013
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Alabama soccer team will play its final match of the regular season when it plays host to the Auburn Tigers for the Iron Bowl of Soccer on Thursday night at 5 p.m. CT.
The stakes could not be any bigger as an Alabama win or tie would propel the Crimson Tide into the 2013 SEC Tournament, held in Orange Beach, Ala., on Nov. 4-10. However, if Alabama falls to Auburn, the Tide would be on the outside looking in for this year's tournament.
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ALABAMA VS. AUBURN (THURSDAY AT 7 P.M.)
Halloween Costume Contest: Costume Contest for great UA Prizes
Kid's Day: First 250 Kids in Attendance receive a FREE Hot Dog & Drink
Post-game Autographs by the team
Alabama and Auburn will meet for the 22nd time in series history when the two teams take the pitch on Thursday night, which is the most games against any opponent in program history. The Tigers lead the all-time series by a count of 12-7-2, including claiming victory in six of the last seven matches between the two teams. However, Alabama claimed a 3-2 win the last time the rivals met in Tuscaloosa back in 2011.
Tonight's match marks the seventh time Alabama has played on Halloween night and the first such matchup since the 2008 campaign. The night has been more of a trick than a treat for the Tide, as UA owns an all-time record of 2-4 when playing an opponent on Halloween. This will mark the third time that Alabama's Halloween opponent will be Auburn, with Auburn winning each of the previous two games (2-1 in 2003 and 4-0 in 2008).
Junior forward Pia Rijsdijk leads the team with 18 points (7g, 4a) on the year. Rijsdijk has collected all seven goals and three of her four assists in SEC play.
Alabama scored only four goals in seven non-conference contests, which ranked last among SEC teams. Since the start of conference play, the Tide has turned it up and ranks third in the league scoring 20 goals in 10 league matches.
Alabama comes into Thursday's Southeastern Conference match vs. Auburn with a 6-11 record on the season. UA is tied for 10th with Arkansas in the league standings with 12 points on the strength of a 4-6 league record this season. The Crimson Tide is coming off a 2-1 overtime loss at No. 23 Ole Miss on Sunday.
Junior forward Pia Rijsdijk, who was tabbed the SEC Offensive Player of the Week for the week of Sept. 30, leads the team with 18 points (7g, 4a). Rijsdijk accounted for two goals and two assists last weekend. She has now collected all seven goals and three of her four assists in SEC play.
Junior midfielder Theresa Diederich (3g, 2a) and senior midfielder Molly Atherton (2g, 4a) are tied for second on the team with eight points apiece. Junior midfielder Laura Lee Smith (3g, 0a) and senior Kendall Khanna (2g, 2a) each have six points.
Sophomore midfielder Merel Van Dongen, who will miss the remainder of the 2013 season with an injury, had four goals in six games on the year before going down with the injury.
Sophomore forward Katie Bourgeois leads the squad with five assists on the season.
Goalkeeper Emily Rusk has earned the starting position in the net for the Crimson Tide, owning a 6-9 record on the year. She has a 2.14 goals against average and leads the SEC with 5.27 saves per game (79 stops in 15 games).
Alabama returned 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).
Auburn comes into Thursday's match vs. Alabama with a 6-8-4 mark overall and a 2-5-3 record in league play. The Tigers are currently tied for 11th in the league standings and will need a win, along with some help from other SEC teams, in order to reach the league tournament.
The Tigers started the SEC season with five consecutive losses, but have turned their season around and are riding a two-match winning streak and a five-match unbeaten streak (2-0-3) into Thursday night's contest. Most recently, Auburn captured a 2-1 home win over Vanderbilt to improve to 6-3-2 at home. The Tigers will be looking for their first road win of the season at Alabama (0-5-2).
Junior midfielder Tori Ball and freshman forward Casie Ramsier lead the Tigers' offensive attack this season. Ramsier tops the squad in goals (9), points (22), shots (47) and shots on goal (16). Meanwhile, Ball is second in each category with six goals, 16 points, 35 shots and 16 shots on goal. Sophomore midfielder Haley Gerken leads the squad with six assists for the year.
Junior goalkeeper Alicen Wright has played the majority of time in the net for Auburn this season. She has started the last 10 matches in goal and has played 13 all together. She maintains a 1.61 goals against average which ranks 10th in the SEC.
ALABAMA SPLITS PAIR OF ROAD GAMES LAST WEEKEND
The Alabama soccer team split its two matches over the weekend, both of which were on the road.
The Crimson Tide won at Mississippi State, 3-1, on Friday night, followed by a 2-1 overtime loss at No. 23 Ole Miss on Sunday.
Pia Rijsdijk finished the weekend with two goals and two assists, including netting the game-winning goal against the Bulldogs.
IT ALL COMES DOWN TO ONE GAME
With only one game remaining in the 2013 regular season, Alabama is in position to earn a trip to the league tournament in Orange Beach, Ala., which will take place Nov. 4-10.
With a 12 points in the SEC standings on the strength of four wins, the Crimson Tide is currently in 10th place with only one game remaining - Thursday night's home matchup vs. Auburn.
Alabama must either win or tie to advance to the SEC Tournament. If Auburn wins, the Tigers will advance to this year's event. The Tide can still earn anywhere from a No. 8, 9 or 10 seed, depending on what else happens on the final day of the SEC regular season.
SOCCER'S IRON BOWL TURNING INTO BIGGEST GAME EVERY YEAR
The soccer version of the Iron Bowl between Alabama and Auburn may be the best rivalry between the two schools in any sport, simply because of what has been on the line when the two teams have met and the drama that has ensued.
This year's match between the Tide and Tigers will mark the fourth straight season that a trip to Orange Beach will be on the line for Alabama.
In the last three years, the two teams have played a pair of overtime contests and all three matches have come down to a goal scored in the final minutes. Below is a look at the last three years and the drama that surrounded each game.
2012 Auburn 4, Alabama 3 (2ot)
Alabama's furious comeback from a 3-0 first half deficit falls short when Auburn scores the game-winning goal with 35 seconds remaining in the second overtime.
2011 Alabama 2, Auburn 1
Alabama used a dramatic 30-yard goal off the foot of Ashley Willis with under three minutes left to earn a thrilling 3-2 win over Auburn.
2010 Auburn 2, Alabama 1 (ot)
Holding a 1-0 lead with just 17 seconds left in the match, Auburn evened the score and then tallied the game-winner three minutes into overtime to earn a 2-1 win and end Alabama's season.
Pia Rijsdijk CONTINUES STELLAR PLAY WITH BIG WEEKEND
Junior forward Pia Rijsdijk continues her stellar play with two goals and two assists in Alabama's two matches last weekend.
Rijsdijk now has 18 points on the season on seven goals and four assists. What's even more impressive is that she has recorded all seven goals and three of her four assists over the Tide's last nine games - all against SEC competition.
She had just one point on one assist in Alabama's first eight contests. Rijsdijk comes into the final regular season game ranked among the league leaders in SEC games only in goals (T-4th) and points (T-4th).
AMONG THE SEC LEADERS
As a result of its recent scoring surge (20 goals over its last nine games), Alabama finds itself among the SEC's offensive leaders in league games only.
The Tide comes into the weekend leading the league in shot percentage (.190) and shots on goal percentage (.505) and ranks third in the league in goals scored (20), goals per game (2.00), assists (21), assists per game (2.10), points (47), points per game (6.10) when playing against SEC competition.
PLAYING RANKED TEAMS
Alabama dropped an overtime contest at No. 23 Ole Miss on Sunday, which marked the fifth ranked opponent the Tide has faced over its last seven matches.
In all, Alabama has faced eight teams ranked among the nation's top 25 through its 17 games this season.
FACING STIFF COMPETITION
Alabama is 6-11 on the 2013 season and 4-6 in Southeastern Conference play. That record may be a little deceiving when breaking down the Crimson Tide's schedule through its 17 matches.
In all, eight of the Tide's opponents were ranked in the nation's top 25 at the time of the, with seven teams remaining in the most recent top-25 poll.
Through Sunday's games, 14 of Alabama's 17 opponents it has played have a winning record. The combined record of the Tide's opposition thus far is 164-99-27 (.612), while the 10 teams who have defeated Alabama is a combined 134-48-16 (.717).