Alabama football is over three weeks away from the beginning of its season, but the other football – soccer – is upon us. Coach Wes Hart’s second Crimson Tide edition will have an exhibition game at Auburn Thursday and another against Troy in Orange Beach Sunday and will begin its season with a home game against Sam Houston State at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 19.
Hart did not inherit a great situation when he took over the Crimson Tide soccer program prior to the 2015 season. Hart, who previously had been assistant coach at Florida State, has had a big turnover in the team since arriving.
“I didn’t cut anyone or run anyone off,” Hart said. “But we raised the bar, and the ones who are here are the ones who bought in to what we are doing. We have players who are willing to put in the work.”
Following his first season, the Tide had a spring practice that he said was important to making a better team with women who were willing to push through the tough times.
Hart said “the competitor in me and the optimist in me wanted to win a lot of games last year.” The realist in Hart, though, knew that those winning seasons would have to come later.
“Last year was important, though,” he said. “It showed us how much we had to do, exposed our flaws, and we have grown from that.”
Hart believes he has some good players and expects to have good leadership going into the season. Last year there were two big difficulties: winning on the road and scoring goals. Addressing the difficulty of road play is the reason for two exhibition games away from Tuscaloosa. Following a three-game homestand to start regular season play, Bama will go on the road for seven consecutive games.
The Tide is expected to be led by senior midfielder Celia Jimenez, who played for the World Cup team of her native Spain and who was second team All-Southeastern Conference last year.
Abbie Boswell is a sophomore transfer forward from Ball State, who scored 10 goals as a freshman. Bama’s leader last year scored four.
Lacey Clarida, a junior forward, was Bama’s leading scorer in the spring, six goals in five games.
Seniors Caroline Alexander and Auburn Mercer are expected to be the leaders on the team.
Junior Kat Stratton was a backup goalkeeper last year, and will move into the starting spot this year. Hart said, “She has potential, but just lacks experience.”