The Crimson White

Casey Wertz leads scoring in second year

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CW/ Hannah Saad

CW/ Hannah Saad

CW/ Hannah Saad

Johnathan Anderson, Staff Writer

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The potency of the Alabama attack has been overwhelming throughout the season.

The Crimson Tide has knocked in 35 goals in its 15 games thus far, averaging 2.33 goals per contest. Alabama is on pace to score 44 goals, which would be the program’s sixth-most all-time.

One particular aspect that has made coach Wes Hart’s team so difficult to defend has been the ability of multiple players to score. Alabama has not been defined by a single player’s ability to find the back of the net, but more of a collective effort, adding to the dynamic offensive tactics Hart has been employing. This season has seen 14 different players find their way onto the scoresheet, including three freshmen.

Despite the communal effort in ravaging opposing defenses, sophomore forward Casey Wertz has still managed eight goals of her own to lead the pack.

“Coming into the season, my goal was 10,” Wertz said. “I only scored four last year, so this season it was a really big deal for me to come in and be that person that was definitely leading the team in scoring, and I’m really happy that I’m doing that.”

The Swiss Army knife of the Alabama offense, Wertz has been utilized in nearly every area of the front line for the Crimson Tide. In the beginning of the campaign, Wertz supplied width and pace down the wings in a 3-4-3. Now, as the physicality and talent of SEC play has forced Hart to reinforce the midfield, Wertz has been moved to more of a holding role alongside Abbie Boswell in a 3-5-2 or 4-4-2.

“[Wertz] is threatening in different ways,” Hart said. “She’s a strong target player for us now that we’ve gone to two players up top. She can beat you off the dribble. She’s capable of scoring in different ways. In addition to the goal scoring presence, she’s also been able to give us the ability to target well.”

Wertz provides Hart the perfect blend to play in her new-found role. She possesses the strength and size required to play with her back to the goal and act as a target, holding the ball up top to allow her midfield to push up the pitch. Wertz also has the speed to get in behind and test the oppositions’ back line on her own.

“She’s not quick and nimble, but when she gets a full head of steam, she can fly,” Hart said. “She’s kind of a dual threat in the sense that she can hold the ball up and target, but at the same time, if you’re not respecting her speed behind you, she can get behind. She is certainly a dangerous player.”

Wertz credits the number of goals she has recorded this season to both her ability to create and manipulate space in the box and her ability to head the ball effectively. The capability of wide players like Emma Welch and Riley Mattingly to whip in crosses from wide positions has allowed her to score more than half of her goals with her head.

“Casey’s been doing great,” Mattingly said. “I mean she’s got a shot on her, to have those front-runners up there and to be able to play with them, it’s a lot of fun.”

Wertz has a guaranteed four remaining games on the schedule to meet her personal goal.

The Crimson Tide retakes the field on Oct. 14 when it hosts Florida for senior night. Coming in to the match at 7-7-1 on the year and 1-5-0 in SEC play, Alabama will need a huge showing from Wertz and the rest of the team in what is shaping up to be a must-win game for Alabama.

 

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Casey Wertz leads scoring in second year