Alabama Soccer Opens With Win

The Alabama soccer team opened its 2010 campaign in impressive fashion as it downed instate foe Samford, 2-1 Friday night in front of a record crowd at the Alabama Soccer Stadium. The opening match win is the first under head coach Todd Bramble as the Crimson Tide open the young season 1-0.

"I am happy with the win but there was room for a lot of improvement tonight," Bramble said. "We may have exerted too much energy in the build up to the game and it affected us in the later minutes. I am proud of the team. It was a real gut check to hold on and earn the win. This is hopefully an indication of what type of team we have this year."

Alabama, which fell to Samford 3-0 last season in Birmingham, was able to hand the Bulldogs just their second loss in two seasons, as they finished with only one defeat in 2009.

After the goal eluded the Tide for most of the 2009 season the start of 2010 proved to be much different. Just four minutes into the contest senior Brooke Rogers got Alabama in the scoring column on the first shot of the game.

Junior defender Veronika Wolfkeil made a run down the right sideline and then sailed a perfect cross that Rogers was able to one-touch volley over Samford goalkeeper Alyssa Whitehead, who led the country in goals against average last season.

"It was great to set the tone early," Rogers said. "It was an important win based on the result from last season. I think this game solidified our improvement but we still have a long way to go. We were pretty aggressive tonight but we need to get more shots on frame."

Samford had a chance to even things up in the 18th minute when they were awarded a penalty kick. Bulldog defender Paige Lanter's shot rattled off the crossbar and back into play.

Alabama found the insurance goal it needed and what proved to be the game-winner when the Tide was awarded a penalty kick of its own in the 77th minute. Senior Rosaly Petriello buried the chance in the upper left portion of the goal to give Alabama the 2-0 lead.

Samford quickly found the net to pull within one when Lindsay Mattern buried a cross on a far post run at the 80th minute. Lauren Cooks set up the play with a cross from the right side of the field.

Alabama out-shot Samford 14-13 with Rogers leading the way with four tallies. Leah Leppert led the Bulldogs with three shots.

UA junior goalkeeper Justine Bernier recorded a game-high nine saves while allowing the one goal. Whitehead tallied eight saves on the evening.

The official attendance of 1284 broke the Alabama Soccer Stadium record. The Crimson Tide welcomed 1252 fans against Mississippi State in 2008. Alabama will continue to play in-state competition as it will face UAB on Sunday at 6 p.m. The two teams will meet at West Campus Field.

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