Alabama FC takes league championship

Alabama FC's Alexandra Arguello guards a Nashville player in the WPSL Finals. (Reporter Photo/Drew Granthum)

Alabama FC’s Alexandra Arguello guards a Nashville player in the WPSL Finals. (Reporter Photo/Drew Granthum)

By DREW GRANTHUM/Sports Editor

NORTH SHELBY — It took a little extra effort, but the Alabama FC soccer team took home its first Women’s Premier Soccer League southeastern conference trophy with a win over the Nashville Wolves on July 13.

The team, made up of local collegiate talent, former Shelby County high school stars as well as some of the stars of the Birmingham United Soccer Association, played host to the four-team conference tournament that saw the Knoxville Lady Force, Chattanooga FC and the Wolves all convene at Oak Mountain High School Stadium for a chance to take home the title.

Alabama FC opened up its title run against Chattanooga July 12. Former Oak Mountain and current Duke star Toni Payne struck first with a goal at the 9:43 mark in the contest.

With a 1-0 lead, it the squad appeared to take over the momentum, applying a great deal of offensive pressure on Chattanooga. The two teams then engaged in a defensive battle, with neither team scoring again for the rest of the half.

Chattanooga came out firing in the second half, scoring at the 53:04 mark in the contest to pull even at 1-1. Alabama FC answered promptly, when former Briarwood star Claudia Day headed a corner kick in at 56:33 to give the home team a 2-1 lead.

After firing a shot over the goal at 60:41, Holderby drilled another goal past the Chattanooga keeper to give Alabama FC a 3-1 lead with 24 minutes remaining.

Chattanooga cut the lead to one with 12 minutes to go in the contest, but another Payne goal with five minutes remaining sealed the win for the team, advancing them to the finals against Nashville.

In the finals, there was far fewer offense — for both teams. Defense prevailed throught the first 20 minutes, with Nashville sailing the ball over the goal at the 20:23 mark. Alabama FC did the same just one minute later, and Payne rung the crossbar at 22:40 to give the Wolves a scare.

Nashville upped the pressure, but it was Alabama FC that struck first when Addie Forbus buried a shot in to give the squad a 1-0 lead at the 34:17 mark. Nashville tied the game at the 45-minute mark, putting both teams even entering the half.

Neither team scored again in regulation, nor in extra time. Alabama FC took home the trophy in penalty kicks, outshooting the Wolves 4-3 to seal the win and the squads’ first championship since it began play in 2013.