By Zach Fidel
Special to The Tuscaloosa News
Coach Wes Hart walked into the locker room 30 minutes before the start of the selection show for the NCAA soccer tournament. He was trying to remain calm, but he couldn’t help but pace back and forth.
On Monday it was announced that the University of Alabama soccer team received a berth in the NCAA soccer tournament. The team will be playing at Clemson. The date and time has yet to be announced. This is only the third time in program history that the Crimson Tide has gotten into soccer’s big dance.
For coach Hart, he knew before the season started he knew that his team had the potential to make it to the tournament.
“We knew we had the talent going into the season that we were going to have a good shot at making the tournament,” Hart said. “But there’s so much more that goes into play. We were fortunate to end the season on a very strong note.”
When it was announced that the Crimson Tide made it to the tournament, there were no bigger cheers than from seniors like Kat Stratton and Celia Jimenez Delgado. They have waited four years for this.
“This means a lot for us and our fans. Two years ago we were literally sitting at an RPI of like 200 and to see how far we have come is amazing,” Stratton said. “To come that far in such a small amount of time is huge.”
Captain midfielder Jimenez Delgado has yearned to play in college soccer’s biggest stage. She already has World Cup experience being a part of the 2015 Spanish National Team. Jimenez Delgado said she thrilled that she will be ending her college career knowing she helped lead her team to a berth in the NCAA tournament.
“I want to play in that game so bad, I want to start preparing today,” Jimenez Delgado said. “I honestly told myself that before I graduate from Alabama, I want to make it to the NCAAs, so this is super special for me.”