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Alabama falls 2-1 to Memphis

1394 days ago
Alabama Athletics

Tuscaloosa, Ala. -- Memphis forward Valerie Sanderson scored a pair of second-half goals and the Tigers were able to hold on to sneak past Alabama, 2-1, on Sunday night at the Alabama Soccer Complex.

"Memphis is a solid, veteran team," Alabama head coach Todd Bramble said. "It was a big challenge and I was pleased with a lot of things that I saw from my team tonight. I don't think we surrendered too many goal-scoring chances. Unfortunately, they took full advantage of the chances they had. We couldn't find a tying goal in the end, despite our team putting forth a great effort tonight."

Sunday's game was the first of the season for the Tigers, while the Tide played less than 48 hours prior (Friday night vs. Kennesaw State). Memphis needed the fresh legs as it played down a man for a majority of the match due to a red card given to Marissa Duguay at the 15:32 mark.

Duguay's foul came against freshman Lacey Clarida, who had broken free of the Tigers' defense and was one-on-one with the goalkeeper. Duguay brought Clarida down with a slide tackle that was immediately whistled, giving Alabama a penalty kick. Senior midfielder Merel van Dongen stepped up and converted the penalty, giving the Tide a 1-0 lead.

Alabama would go on to outshoot Memphis, 7-4, in the opening 45 minutes, but could not add to its one-goal lead.

The Tigers swung momentum in their favor just over three minutes into the second half when Sanderson scored the first of her two goals with a header off a corner kick to draw even. Sanderson, who recently returned from leading Canada at the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup, would strike again on another header at the 70:51 mark to give the Tigers a 2-1 lead.

The Tide continued to fight down the stretch and had several good scoring chances. The best chance came when redshirt freshman Hailey Brohaugh ripped a shot from 25 yards out that seemed destined for the back of the net. However, the ball ricocheted off the crossbar and was cleared away.

Clarida also had a solid scoring opportunity in the 83rd minute, but a Memphis defender blocked the shot from going in the back of the net.

"Memphis getting the tying goal is what changed the game," Bramble said. "I don't think there was anything going on the field that was that dramatically different. That goal from the corner kick swung momentum in the game in their favor. It was a wide open affair after that."

Alabama outshot Memphis, 15-10, but the Tigers held an 8-5 edge in shots on goal. The Tide was also whistled for 19 fouls, compare to only three fouls called against Memphis.

Alabama goalkeeper Kat Stratton, making her first career start, made six stops on the night in the losing effort.

Despite playing two games in the weekend, compared to Memphis' one, Bramble would not use any excuses for the loss.

"You certainly would've liked to play the game on a level playing field," Bramble said. "They had a chance to scout the game and we didn't get that opportunity with them. That doesn't feel great, but if we focus on that, then it just looks like we're making excuses and we're not going to make excuses around here. We had a 1-0 lead and I thought we gave away two goals that we could've prevented - that was the difference."

The Crimson Tide will return to action next weekend when it travels to the state of Tennessee for a pair of road games. Alabama will first square off at Austin Peay on Friday, Aug. 29, followed by a game at Middle Tennessee on Sunday, Aug. 31. Both contests will kick off at 7 p.m. CT.