Soccer drops regular season finale to Vanderbilt

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Soccer drops regular season finale to Vanderbilt

CW / Madelyn Verbrugge

CW / Madelyn Verbrugge

CW / Madelyn Verbrugge

CW / Madelyn Verbrugge

Alabama soccer lost its final game of the regular season Thursday night, falling to the Vanderbilt Commodores 2-1 on senior night.

“Vanderbilt’s a tough team,” coach Wes Hart said. “They don’t give away many chances — many goals — and they kinda locked it in and kinda sat deep and made it difficult for us. I was happy with the response after 2-0 but we would have rather had that response from the start of the game.”

Despite the loss, the Crimson Tide is headed to the SEC Tournament as the No. 7 seed and is scheduled to play in-state rival Auburn in the first round on Sunday. Alabama failed to make the SEC Tournament last season.

Vanderbilt started off hot, with junior midfielder Paola Ellis scoring two goals. Her first was in the 11th minute, assisted by junior forward Leila Azari, and her second came four minutes later in the 15th, assisted by sophomore midfielder Raegan Kelley.

“We started off really slow,” Alabama junior forward Casey Wertz said. “They obviously got two really well-deserved goals. I think that once we picked it up we kinda started going and we got possession there and it kinda opened up for us, but unfortunately we couldn’t finish.”

In the 23rd minute, Wertz scored an unassisted goal of her own.

“I think the good thing about that goal was that I wasn’t thinking,” Wertz said. “I just kinda did it and that’s kinda what scored. I think so many times this season before I’ve shot I’ve kinda thought about it and I’ve missed.”

Wertz’s goal was the only goal scored by Alabama, despite a strong offensive front maintaining possession of the ball on the Commodores’ side of the field for the majority of the second half.

When the final whistle blew, Vanderbilt finished on top 2-1 over Alabama.

The Crimson Tide outshot the Commodores 14-11, with Wertz and freshman midfielder Macy Clem leading Alabama with three shots apiece.

Despite allowing two goals, freshman goalkeeper A.J. Crooks had a solid outing after the first 15 minutes of play, recording six saves.

The team’s eyes now turn to Orange Beach, where they will travel to play the SEC Tournament.

“This year it just means so much,” Wertz said. “I feel like its just such an honor. It means so much more this year and I’m really excited.”

With the loss, Alabama’s final regular-season record is 9-6-3, finishing 4-4-2 in the SEC. Vanderbilt ends its regular season 13-4-1, and is 6-3-1 in the conference.

Alabama starts its postseason run Sunday against Auburn in the first round of the SEC Tournament. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. CT, and will be broadcast on SEC Network.