Soccer defeats North Texas in return to Tuscaloosa

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Soccer defeats North Texas in return to Tuscaloosa

CW / Madelyn Verbrugge

CW / Madelyn Verbrugge

CW / Madelyn Verbrugge

CW / Madelyn Verbrugge

After a five-game road trip, the Alabama soccer team returned to Tuscaloosa on Sunday, defeating North Texas 3-1 in its first game back at home.

After shutting out Jacksonville State Thursday, the Crimson Tide only allowed one goal on Sunday in another game where Alabama flexed its defensive muscles.

“The team as a whole is pretty stingy,” head coach Wes Hart said. “Certainly would have loved to have gotten that clean sheet, but we tried a few things. We brought in a new goalkeeper [freshman A.J. Crooks in Thursday’s game against Jacksonville State] and tried to get a lot of people some playing time and I probably screwed with the kind of dynamics a little bit too much, but I wanted players to get playing time.”

The Alabama freshmen continued to make an impact, scoring two of the team’s three goals and shooting nine of its 17 shots.

Alabama scored first and scored quickly. In the fifth minute freshman midfielder Reyna Reyes scored the first goal of the game, assisted by junior forward Casey Wertz and freshman midfielder Serena Pham.

“Just an incredible feeling,” Reyes said. “That was my first goal and I was so excited. I couldn’t have done it without my team, though.”

The Crimson Tide scored again in the 34th minute, with the goal scored off of a header by freshman forward Carly Wyatt, and redshirt sophomore forward Gabby Duca picking up the assist.

Five minutes later, Pham went down with an injury and headed back to the bench in the medical golf cart. Pham wouldn’t see action for the rest of the game, but Hart she had a leg contusion and is expected back after a few days’ rest.

After the half, sophomore forward Riley Mattingly scored the team’s third goal in the 60th minute, assisted by Reyes. The goal marks Mattingly’s team-leading fourth goal of the season.

“Anything I can do to help the team win is obviously what we’re playing for,” Mattingly said. “It was a good one by Reyna [Reyes], and I was just there to clean it up. It’s always nice to score.”

North Texas scored its first goal of the game in the 77th minute. It would be too little too late for the Mean Green, though, and the Crimson Tide moved on to win 3-1.

In total, Alabama outshot North Texas 17-10, with 10 of its shots being on goal. Mattingly led the team with three shots. The Crimson Tide also had six corner kicks as opposed to the three of the Mean Green.

Junior Alex Plavin got the start for the Crimson Tide at goalkeeper, allowing zero goals and two saves.

With the win, Alabama moves to 5-2-1 on the season. North Texas drops to 5-3-1 with the loss. After a week-long break, the Crimson Tide begins SEC play Sunday when hits the road again to take on the Arkansas Razorbacks. Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. CT.