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College Cup Open Thread, Preview and How To Watch: No. 1 ‘Bama Soccer vs. No. 1 UCLA

We’re clearing out space on the Trophy Case

(C) 2022 University of Alabama Athletics, Jeff Hanson

By popular demand, here’s your open thread for tonight’s matchup between SE No. 1 Seed Alabama and W No. 1 Seed, UCLA.

First off: here’s how to tune in to catch the game.

  • Who: Alabama vs. UCLA
  • When: 7:30 CT Friday
  • Where: WakeMed Soccer Park, Cary, North Carolina.

As for what to expect?

UCLA is a defensive powerhouse, quite content to net a goal or two and then strangle the life out of opponents. Alabama could not be more different. Like all quality soccer clubs, the Tide defense is outstanding, and its goaltending is solid. But what separates the Tide this year is their offense.

The Duke game was perhaps the most instructive.

At the 67th minute-mark, No. 2 Duke and No. 1 Alabama were in a scoreless draw...over the next 12 minutes, the teams would rally up and down the pitch to make it 2-2. Alabama eventually prevailed 3-2 in overtime. So, yes, if you want to play that style, that is where Alabama is arguably at its best. They lead all College Cup teams in scoring, at 3.86 GPG, and put an unreal 8 shots on the net a contest. They also lead the country in total points and goals.

But getting a breakthrough against the Bruins will be tough, despite ‘Bama’s two MAC Hermann finalists — UCLA has allowed 12 goals. All year. It has the P12’s player of the year and coaching staff of the year. Needless to say, the Bruins have the best goaltending of any of the remaining four contenders and are Vegas’s second-favorite squad to win it all (behind UNC). Alabama is a close third, but for different reasons.

It’s a battle of contrasts tonight.

Will elite offense prevail over elite defense, a trend we’ve seen across the board in most sports? Or, will the Beautiful Game stick to its conservative, often-tedious dribbling and passing, where one team looks for the one mistake to exploit? If UCLA falls down two goals, do they have the firepower to come back? If Alabama is down late, will they have the talent to get one between the pipes?

This is all new to us, but it’s a fun ride.

Come cheer the women on.

Roll Tide!