TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama soccer is about to play its first-ever Elite Eight match when it hosts the Duke Blue Devils on Friday night in Tuscaloosa. Being a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, the Crimson Tide has had the benefit of playing its matches in front of its fans, who've maintained a strong presence at the Alabama Soccer Stadium throughout the season
It's no secret that the school of Nick Saban and Alabama football loves to support winners, but for head coach Wes Hart's team, the support from the community goes beyond a shallow, bandwagon-esque trend (though some of those exist too). A lot of the players have been at Alabama for several years, including goalkeeper McKinley Crone, who's been a soccer advocate on social media, and seen the following grow.
"For me it was just being able to make an impact on the community," Crone said. "This is my third season at Alabama, so I've been able to get know the community a little more."
Crone said her efforts were in hopes of setting up the Alabama soccer brand for future success, and based off her social-media work it's trending in the right direction.
But the appreciation for Alabama soccer hasn't just been for the present or the potential future, it's come from alumni of the program as well.
"I've had a lot of former soccer players reach out," Hart said. "From players that I coached over the last couple years, or even players that were here 10, 15 years ago before I was ever the coach. It's been awesome."
Hart also said the team has drawn attention from all areas of his life, from members of the community, to former high school and college friends, and even old neighbors. Everyone has been wishing the Crimson Tide good luck and he's appreciative of the support the team has received all season.
Alabama's match against Duke will take place this Friday in Alabama Soccer Stadium. Kickoff is at 6 p.m. CT.
The winner advances to the College Cup, NCAA soccer's version of the Final Four.
The other matchups, which will all be played on Saturday, with seedings (all times CT):
- No. 1 Florida State vs. No. 3 Arkansas, 4 p.m.
- No. 1 Notre Dame vs. No. 2 North Carolina, 5 p.m.
- No. 1 UCLA vs. No. 3 Virginia, 8 p.m.
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