Even as Duke himself answered back-to-back wages with his own back-to-back wages in that much-anticipated, much-hyped Elite Eight showdown between the Alabama region’s top two seeds, there was a sense in the cool fall air at Alabama Soccer Stadium that these late November night would not be the end of Alabama’s picture-perfect 2022 football season.
A little extra drama? Secure. Twenty extra minutes on the pitch for the players? Yes. But the End? For this Alabama team? no No chance. This night belonged too much to Alabama for this to be the end. This was Alabama’s night. And so far, 2022 has been Alabama’s season.
Pedigree? program status? past achievements? Duke had all of these in abundance. None of that mattered on Friday night. That night was all about the here and now. And after 90 minutes of gameplay, it was clear to a sold-out, packed, hyper-hyped, crimson-and-white shaker-wielding crowd that Alabama Soccer Stadium had never so saturated before that this rising Alabama team was the stronger, bolder, more experienced, talented and determined side.
want numbers Think about this. shots? Alabama 26, Duke 12. Shots on goal? Alabama 12, Duke 7. Corners? Alabama 15, Duke 2. That’s not lucky. This isn’t over. This is not random stumbling forward or around or through. That means fighting your way past a big-name football school with a show of force.
Yes, between Alabama and Duke, the Durham, NC-based ACC team clearly owns the richer football history. On Friday night at Alabama Soccer Stadium, Alabama clearly had the edge team. And it wasn’t even close. Except on the scoreboard.
At first it looked like Bama was also making the scoreboard look crooked. After a goalless first half, Ashlynn Serepca scored for Bama from a double assist from Riley Tanner and Gessica Skorka just four minutes after teammate Gianna Paul put the women on the scoreboard in home white. It went from 0-0 to 2-0 Bama before one of the many relaxed Bama fans in attendance on Friday night could finish his or her cup of hot cocoa. And with just under 20 minutes to play, Bama players, coaches and fans, Cary, NC, began snooping; Sight of the 2022 College Cup.
Duke’s Michelle Cooper scored twice at the end of the stretch to shorten the game and cause some nervousness in the crimson sea in the stands and standing room along the perimeter fence behind the goal. But the tide would not be denied that night. A goal from Reyna Reyes in overtime provided the final boost, securing a thrilling 3-2 win and sending No. 1 seed Alabama to their first-ever college cup, the women’s college soccer Final Four.
Alabama Soccer with elite programs
Alabama meets UCLA (20-2-1) in one semifinal game, while defending champions Florida State (17-2-3) meet North Carolina (19-4-1) in the other. Both games will take place on Friday evening at WakeMed Football Park in Cary, NC The national championship game is scheduled for Monday, December 5th at WakeMed Soccer Park. All three games can be seen on ESPNU.
UCLA is making its 12th trip to the last four, has been a four-time runner-up — most recently in 2017 — and won its one national title in 2013. Florida State is making its 13th trip to the last four and has been promoted runners-up three times, and the national championship it won last season was the school’s third in the sport. North Carolina? Ah. Twenty-one women’s collegiate soccer national championships over the past 40 years is all there is to know about this program.
That’s right, Alabama football, whose best season in its 36-year history came just last season in 2021 when it reached the round of 32 at the NCAA tournament before being eliminated, is now on the same stage as these three goliaths of the sport one of the last four still standing in 2022.
The Crimson Tide, long accustomed to being two wins away from maybe a season win record, or two wins away from qualifying for the SEC tournament, or two wins away from avoiding the SEC West basement, is now two Wins away from a win National Championship.
Talk about blowing the roof of a program once mired in decades of mediocrity. Talk about a still-developing story worthy of the big screen. Mr. Spielberg, maybe you should grab a pen and pad and book a flight to Cary.
Of course, anyone who’s followed Alabama football in 2022 knows that Alabama’s 4-0 run at the NCAA tournament, the downfall of ACC powerhouse Duke and the 2022 College Cup berth weren’t hot spots in the postseason. This storied team from Alabama has been breaking barriers, defying odds and making program firsts all season.
There’s nothing unusual about Bama being in the College Cup. Nothing surprising in Friday night’s result. Nothing impressive about Bama continuing to emerge victorious as the NCAA tournament’s 64-man field has been reduced from 64 to 32 to 16 to 8 and now to 4.
BYU. Clemson. South Carolina. Arkansas. Ask those top-tier teams, those Bama-defeated foes about that Crimson Tide team. Alabama has been beating high-ranking team after high-ranking team after high-ranking team all season. Alabama won the SEC regular-season championship. Damn it worked undefeated by the SEC’s regular season roster. It ended 2022 at home with a perfect 13-0. Wes Hart’s roster now stands at 23-2-1 in the season. Leave that on for a minute; 23-2-1. Even Nick Saban would raise an eyebrow at the sight of such a sparkling sign.
This kind of sustained dominance over four months is no coincidence. What happened on Friday night was no aberration, no shock, no triumph out of nowhere. It was more like what this Alabama team has been doing all season. It just got onto a bigger stage. In the elite eight of the NCAA tournament.
And though players and coaches rightly celebrated the feat afterwards, posing with photos of the completed region bracket, holding up college cup signs and making snow angels in the confetti, what happened Friday night wasn’t the finish line either.
It was a sequel.
Alabama’s historic, fairytale 2022 football season continues to be written. The scene just shifts now. To the grandest and most glorious stage in women’s collegiate football. Where the glare of the sport’s headlights shines brightest.
The last four? From women’s college soccer? State of Florida, North Carolina and UCLA? Secure. OK. but Alabama? Alabama is there also? Surprised? Serious?
Here’s a better question.
Where have she were the last four months?