TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — The Alabama Crimson Tide soccer team recorded its first victory of the season with a 3-0 win over Utah during a match in which goals weren’t the only thing flooding in.
Coach Wes Hart once again displayed his trust in his new players, alternating a few but still keeping with a largely freshmen midfield Sunday.
“I think it really shows that he trusts all of us and that we’re here for a reason and that anyone is capable of anything on this team,” he said.
Hart maintained that their rookie status is only one on paper. They don’t look like, nor play like, freshmen.
“The freshmen, doing such a great job, have raised the level of all the players," the fifth-year coach added. "Everyone knows that they have to bring their best or someone else could play ahead of them.”
After another rather sloppy start, the remaining story of the game was one of relative domination by the Crimson Tide. Alabama seemed to create chances at will, knocking the ball around with much greater intent than was shown during its first match against BYU.
Alabama took the lead in the 32nd minute after strong play down the left flank. As play was recycled through the midfield, the ball found the feet of junior defender Brynn Martin who unleashed a screamer from outside of the box.
The right-footed 30-yard strike from the center of the pitch arrowed into the top left corner, leaving the outstretched hands of Utah goalkeeper Carly Nelson no chance. It was one of those sweet strikes that as soon as it left her foot, she knew it was special.
“I was just standing there waiting for it,” Martin said. “I was just hoping that the goalie didn’t make an awesome save and it ended up going in so I was pretty happy about that.”
As stunning as it was, the attempt was one that — had it not flown in — might have been met by a few choice words from the man in charge.
“We have a little bit of a rule within the team about certain areas of the field that we want to shoot from and that’s not typically an area we want to shoot from," Hart said. "But it was certainly a wonderful goal and one that she is going to remember for a long time.”
Shortly after, a thunderstorm rolled into Tuscaloosa causing a 94-minute rain delay. The teams resumed play with a modified two-minute halftime to separate what remained of the two halves.
The Crimson Tide doubled its advantage in the 74th minute when Casey Wertz worked hard to collect a stray ball on the right wing. The junior forward turned and charged at the Utes’ backline before squaring the ball to freshman Macy Clem, who redirected the cross into the far corner.
The goal was the career first for the normally defensive midfielder.
Only five minutes later, Wertz concluded the scoring by driving home a penalty kick to give Hart’s side the convincing win.
“It’s really exciting,” Clem said. “I’m a holding midfielder so I don’t typically get up there to score a lot so to get the chance to get in the box and get one on the board to help my team, it was just awesome.”
The Crimson Tide finished the match outshooting the Utes 15-8, placing 10 of those shots on target. Alabama also held a 10-1 advantage on corners.
Junior goalkeeper Alex Plavin kept her clean sheet intact by recording four saves on the day.
“They were incredible," Plavin said. "Obviously, we were a bit discouraged and disappointed after the BYU game but we bounced back and I thought we had one of our best performances here that we’ve had in a long time.”
Alabama begins a five-game road trip at Rice on Thursday, August 29 at 7 p.m. in Houston.