Wes Hart and the University of Alabama soccer team don’t want to make too big of a deal about making last year’s SEC Tournament. Because, really, they don’t think it was a big deal. They want more.
“To be honest, with 10 out of 14 teams (in the league) making the tournament, it should be a given,” said Hart, Alabama’s third-year coach. “But for us, it was a steppingstone from the previous year.
“From here on out that’s kind of a given; that’s not necessarily a goal for us to try and make the SEC Tournament.”
Alabama went 9-8-2 last season, 4-5-2 in league play, to finish ninth in the league. The Crimson Tide opens its season Friday night at home against Jacksonville State in a 7 p.m. game.
The expectations, and the goals, are a bit higher this season.
“For us this year, we want to be competitive in each and every game, and I think we are going to be that,” Hart said. “We’d like to be fighting for the opportunity to at least be competing for an SEC championship.
“History will probably tell you if you’re finishing in the top half – top six or seven in the SEC – you probably have a pretty good chance of making the NCAA Tournament. I feel that we’re good enough that if we stay healthy and perform like we should, there should be a good chance of that.”
Senior Kat Stratton returns in goal to lead UA’s defense. She made 91 saves last season, allowing 1.14 goals per game.
“I think we’re getting it together,” Stratton said. “I think we’ll be fine. If they get us one (goal), I think our defense can hold them down.”
Alabama has installed a three-back system after playing with four players back the last two years, giving Hart versatility. He expects the scheme to allow UA to press further up the field to create more scoring opportunities.
“I think we’ll be a team that can press teams and turn the ball over,” Hart said. “The difficult part will be who’s going to score the goals.”
Abbie Boswell is the Crimson Tide’s top returning scoring threat after netting seven goals with seven assists last season. Chatham DeProspo, who had three goals and two assists last season, has moved up the field for more scoring opportunities. Freshman Casey Wertz is also expected to add some offensive punch.
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