Tide Soccer Earns Way Into Tourney

For the second time under head coach Todd Bramble, the Alabama soccer team will head to Orange Beach for the Southeastern Conference Tournament. 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 rival Auburn Friday night.

The win is the first for Alabama over the Tigers since 2005 and it marks the first trip to the SEC tournament for the Crimson Tide since 2008. The victory also guarantees the first winning season for Alabama (9-7-3, 4-5-2 SEC) since 2003.

"This is a resilient team and once again they showed it tonight," Bramble said. "That is what I am most proud of. Once that second goal went in for Auburn I was curious to how we would react. We fought back and it was fun to watch."

After seizing a 2-0 advantage on a Kendall Khanna goal in the 62nd minute, Auburn rallied to even the score with five minutes remaining.

Willis then answered for the Tide in the 88th minute. After a clearance by the Auburn defense, Willis drilled the upper-v, far post from the sideline, 30 yards out to give Alabama the win.

Khanna gave the Tide what seemed to be a comfortable margin on a goal from eight yards out in the 62nd minute. The sophomore followed up a Molly Atherton shot to hand the Tide a 2-0 lead.

A Julie King goal in the 77th minute and a penalty kick by Katy Frierson evened the score in a must-win situation for the Tide.

After coming out of the gates strong in the first half, peppering the Auburn goal with nine shots before the Tigers even fired off one, the Crimson Tide finally found the back of the net.

UA redshirt freshman Theresa Diederich scored her team-leading seventh goal, converting her fourth penalty kick on the season, scorching the back of the net in the 41st minute to give the Tide a 1-0 lead.

Alabama was on the offensive the entire first period, racking up 20 shots in the half compared to eight by Auburn. UA was knocking on the door when senior Shannon Lathrop almost found the net far post in the 35th minute but AU keeper Amy Howard made a fingertip save. Atherton then just cleared the crossbar two minutes later.

Alabama outshot Auburn, 27-22 on the match. Atherton led all players with seven shots. Rijsdijk followed with five, putting two on frame. Justine Bernier recorded a game-high seven saves in her last match at the Alabama Soccer Stadium.

Alabama will enter the SEC tournament as the No. 8 seed and face No. 1 seed South Carolina. The two will meet at the Orange Beach Sportsplex on Wednesday at 5 p.m.

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