Whether you call it soccer or futbol, the sport takes center stage this weekend along the Alabama Gulf Coast, where dozens of collegiate squads will battle to crown champions in three conferences.
The women’s soccer squad at the University of South Alabama recently concluded its regular season with an 8-0-1 record. This secured the Jags their first outright Sun Belt Conference title since the league started sponsoring the sport in 2000. USA, which is 16-2-1 overall, shared the title that first season with Florida International.
“It feels great,” Head Coach Graham Winkworth said. “It was the part that we missed out on last season, which was very disappointing. It was something that I was really focused on, making sure that we competed for it this year.
“I can’t give enough credit to the players that I’m fortunate enough to work with every day.”
Among those standouts is freshman Chardé Hannah, who was recently named the SBC player of the week for the third time. She leads the conference in points (2.38) and goals (1.00) per game, and is tied for sixth in assists. Also honored was junior Nini Rabsatt-Smith, who was the SBC defender of the week after helping the Jags allow just one goal in two overtime victories.
The Jags, who have not lost in their last 15 outings, won the Sun Belt postseason tournament in 2013 and advanced into the NCAA playoffs. They will attempt to defend the crown by hosting this year’s conference event at The Cage on USA’s campus just east of Stanky Field.
The top eight teams began play on Wednesday. The semifinals will be at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. Friday, while the championship game is set for 1 p.m. Sunday.
Admission is $8 for adults and $5 for seniors and youths. There is no charge for students from SBC schools and for those under 2 years of age.
Mobile sweeps regular season titles
Both soccer teams at the University of Mobile secured the regular titles last Saturday in the Southern States Athletes Conference.
The 17th-ranked men’s squad beat defending NAIA national champion Martin Methodist 1-0 to wrap up their trophy. Gaetan Massiah scored on a penalty kick, while goalie Xavier Audergon got his eighth shutout. The Rams stand at 12-3-2 overall and are 7-1 in SSAC action. They open the conference playoffs Saturday by hosting Brewton-Parker.
The 10th-ranked Lady Rams also came through, beating 5th-ranked Martin Methodist 1-0 to win the women’s regular season title, their first since 2005. Katie Compton scored the goal, while goalie Rebecca Wayne recorded her seventh shutout. Mobile is on an 11-game unbeaten streak, standing 13-2-2 overall and 8-0 in league play.
The Lady Rams host Belhaven at 1 p.m. Saturday to open the SSAC postseason. The men will host Brewton-Parker at 3:30 p.m.
The SSAC tournaments for men and women will continue Nov. 13-15 in Montgomery. The NAIA national championship takes place at the Orange Beach Sportsplex Dec. 1-6, while the men will play on the same dates in West Palm Beach, Fla.
The Lady Rams’ Anna Caroline Scales was recently named the SSAC defensive player of the week. She helped her club to shutout wins over Belhaven and Bethel. The sophomore added a goal and an assist in the games.
Also, Dernelle Mascall, a former member of the University of Mobile women’s team, earned a berth as a forward on the Trinidad and Tobago national soccer squad. The squad recently took a fourth-place finish in the 2014 CONCACAF championships.
Showdown in the sand
The Southeastern Conference is returning to the Orange Beach Sportsplex again for its women’s soccer tournament. The Baldwin County facility has hosted the event since 2003.
The action began Monday, with the seventh through 10th seeds facing each other. Semifinal action will take place Friday at 3:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. The championship game is set for Sunday afternoon at 2.
Admission is $5 for adults and $2 for children. If you are unable to make the trip, all the elimination games are being broadcast on the SEC Network. The final match will be aired on ESPNU.
For ticket information, call 251-981-6039. The Sportsplex is located off Canal Road, approximately 0.7 miles east of the Foley Beach Express.
Alabama and Auburn did qualify for the tournament. Texas A&M and Florida enter as the top seeds.
MSA reports fifth year of activity
The Mobile Sports Authority recently completed its fifth fiscal year of operations on Sept. 30. Executive Director Danny Corte reports the MSA attracted, hosted, managed or supported a total of 37 completed sporting events in the past 12 months.
The list included 21 non-tennis events. The remaining 16 were tennis tourneys in which the MSA and Mobile County partnered with the Mobile Area Tennis Association. The total estimated economic impact to the Mobile area was $62,300,922 for the fiscal year.
The MSA is working with the Shaolin Chan Foundation to sponsor the next KSF: U.S. Open Challenge/K. Warrior Search event at the Mobile Civic Center Saturday. It has been two decades since Mobile hosted the first of these competitions.
Joshua Joseph, one of the winners of the previous Mobile event in June, was invited to train with Grandmaster Shi DeRu. He went on to represent the Kungfu Sanshou Federation in a competition in China. He placed second in a field that included representatives from 68 countries.
The day’s events begin at 10 a.m., with the main event set for 7:30 p.m. For ticket information, call the Shaolin Institute at 251-662-3225. For more information online, visit usaskf.org.