ORANGE BEACH, Ala. — The eighth-seeded University of Alabama women’s soccer team opened the Southeastern Conference tournament with a 1-0 victory against top-seeded South Carolina on Wednesday night at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
The win is the first for the Crimson Tide in the tournament since 1998.
“It was a good performance by our team,” Alabama coach Todd Bramble said. “I thought in the first half we were very good. I thought the goal was an outstanding goal by Molly (Atherton) and it was well deserved. When you’re playing against a team like South Carolina, they’re going to fight back in the second half and they made a great run to try to tie it up, but our defense was outstanding and our goalkeeper Justine (Bernier) was big-time tonight.”
Alabama (10-7-3) earns its first double digit win total since 2004. The win also marks the third on the season against a ranked opponent. The Gamecocks (15-6-0) entered the tournament ranked No. 19 in the country. South Carolina won the SEC regular season title.
The win was just the third for Alabama in SEC tournament history as the Tide improve to 3-7 in the tournament. It was the first time the No. 8 seed had knocked off the No. 1 seed since 2002 (LSU 1, Auburn 0).
Alabama scored the lone goal when Atherton, a sophomore, notched her fourth goal of the season. Atherton gathered a Kendall Khanna pass that was set up by K.K. Duffy atop the box and from the right side fired a low-drive inside the far post to hand the Crimson Tide the early 1-0 lead.
Bernier, a senior, made seven saves for her seventh shutout of the season. Rarely tested in the first half, the All-SEC second-team selection made some key stops in the second half to preserve the win. The seven shutouts ties for the most in a single season in school history and extends her school record to 21 career clean sheets.
Alabama will take on fourth-seeded Florida, which beat fifth-seeded Georgia 2-0 on Wednesday, at 7:30 p.m. in the semifinals. Auburn, which beat LSU 3-0, will face Tennessee, a 2-1 winner against Kentucky, in the first semifinal at 5 p.m. Friday.
n No. 7 EMCC men open with victory: At Scooba, With seven players in double figures and 81 second-half points, the seventh-ranked East Mississippi Community College men’s basketball team defeated Southern Sports Academy 135-69 on Wednesday night at Keyes T. Currie Coliseum.
Freshman guard Jalen Houston led EMCC with 18 points. Transfer forward Colin Borchert, of Phoenix, Ariz., followed with 17 points, while former Brandon High School standout D.J. Evans added 16 points.
n EMCC’s Autry earns defensive honor: At Scooba, For the fourth time during the school’s first undefeated regular season, a member of East Mississippi Community College’s No. 3 football team has collected NJCAA Player of the Week honors.
Sophomore defensive end Denico Autry had 11 tackles (nine solo) last week against Holmes C.C. to earn NJCAA’s Defensive Player of the Week honors.
The 6-foot-6, 255-pound Autry had four sacks, a tackle for loss, five quarterback hurries, one forced fumble, and one pass breakup.
n Team Black evens Bulldog World Series: At Starkville, Team Black scored eight runs in the second inning Wednesday afternoon en route to a series-evening 12-7 win against Team Gray in the Bulldog World Series at Dudy Noble Field. Each team had 14 hits.
Left fielder Hunter Renfroe singled twice in the second when Team Black sent 13 batters went to the plate. Renfroe, junior catcher Nick Ammirati, and designated hitter Phillip Casey had three hits each.
Freshman left-hander Jacob Lindgren scattered three runs on seven hits with four strikeouts in a five-inning start to earn the win.
Senior left-hander Tim Statz allowed eight runs on seven hits and struck out six in four innings to take the loss.
Freshman third baseman Brayden Jones doubled twice and drove in three runs in a 4-for-6 plate performance for Team Gray. Sophomore shortstop Adam Frazier, freshman outfielder Krisjon Wilkerson, and Tyler Fullerton each collected three hits for Team Grey.
The Bulldog World Series concludes at 4:15 p.m. Friday, at 1 p.m. Saturday, and at noon Sunday. The games are open to the public with no charge for admission.
n McDonald finishes fourth for women’s golf: At Austin, Texas, With a final-round 307, the women’s golf team concluded the fall season in the Betsy Rawls Longhorn Invitational at the University of Texas Golf Club.
After a 914 for the tournament, the team bettered its round average to 310, three strokes better than the 2011 spring average.
Freshman Ally McDonald carded a 1-over-par 73 to finish at 217 and tied with 42nd-ranked Grace Na, of Pepperdine, for fourth. She finished three strokes back of winner Nicole Vandermade, of Texas.
No. 20 Texas claimed the event title with an 16-over-par 880.
Gymnastics team will have open practice Saturday
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The defending NCAA champion University of Alabama gymnastics team will play host to an open practice from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday in the Frances Smith Gymnastics Practice Facility at the rear of Coleman Coliseum.
Fans can enter the practice facility through the southwest entrance to the Coliseum, which is across from the entrance to the Sam Bailey Track and Field Stadium. In addition to getting a first look at Alabama’s newcomers, fans will have the chance to see returning All-Americans Geralen Stack-Eaton, Ashley Priess, Rachel Terry, Ashley Sledge, Marissa Gutierrez, Kim Jacob, Sarah DeMeo, and Diandra Milliner.
Rebels In New York For USTA/ITA National Indoor
NEW YORK — Mississippi State and the University of Mississippi will be well represented today at the USTA/ITA National Intercollegiate Indoor Championships.
As the only tournament on the ITA calendar to showcase elite players from every level of college, the USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships serves as the culmination of the fall season. Hosted by Columbia University, the event features a 32-player singles draw and a 20-team doubles draw for men and women.
Ole Miss junior Jonas Lutjen and sophomore Johan Backstrom will compete in doubles, while senior Kristi Boxx will compete in singles and will team with classmate Abby Guthrie in doubles draw.
MSU’s seventh-ranked doubles duo of Louis Cant and Malte Stropp will take on California’s Carlos Cueto and Ben McLachlan this morning in what they hope will be the first of two matches today.
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