Soccer misses NCAA Tournament but looks forward to bright future

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Soccer misses NCAA Tournament but looks forward to bright future

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

CW / Hannah Saad

Alabama soccer was not selected to participate in the 2019 NCAA Tournament. The Crimson Tide, while ranked No. 39 in RPI, was not chosen to play in the 64-team field.

Alabama has only made the NCAA Tournament four times in program history, with 2017 being its most recent appearance. The Crimson Tide has been eliminated all four times in the first round.

After a strong regular season, it was surprising that the Crimson Tide was passed over for the NCAA Tournament. Being ranked at No. 39, seven teams that were ranked below Alabama advanced to the Tournament. Only two teams that were ranked higher than the Crimson Tide were left out, those teams being FAU and Yale.

Alabama soccer finished the season with a 10-7-3 overall record, and went 4-4-2 in the SEC. The Crimson Tide outshot its opponents 335-195 as well as outscored the competition 36-24. Alabama also had almost three times as many corner kicks as its opponents registering 153 compared to its opponents’ 56.

While the club is certainly disappointed, the Alabama soccer program has a lot to look forward to next season. Head coach Wes Hart returns the majority of his key offensive players, including junior forward Casey Wertz, who recorded six goals, seven assists and 19 points on the season, leading the team in all three categories.

Sophomore forward Riley Mattingly and freshmen midfielders Carlee Giammona and Macy Clem, who played integral roles in the Crimson Tide offense, are also returning next season.

At the midfield, freshman Reyna Reyes will look to continue her success at the position that she excelled at this season. The Crimson Tide will also return juniors Taylor Morgan, Neaka Khalilian, Kaley Verpaele and sophomore Kat Rogers, providing great depth.

Freshman goalkeeper A.J. Crooks was stellar in the net for Alabama, and will return as the anchor in goal. Crooks allowed 15 goals in 12 games played tallying 44 saves and 6-3-2 record for the Crimson Tide.

Returning defenders freshmen Bella Scaturro and Sasha Pickard provided Alabama with skilled depth on defense. Rising senior Brynn Martin also contributed heavily to the solid defense, and seeing all three return, combined with Crooks in the net, should set up a solid back line in 2020.

As far as players lost, the Crimson Tide only had three seniors, with defender Nealy Martin, forward Chloe Maize and goalkeeper Alex Plavin graduating. All three players served as key leadership pieces this season, but Hart has laid the groundwork with his younger players to move up into those roles.

Regardless of missing the NCAA Tournament, with all of the young talent returning to the team in 2020, the future is looking bright for the Crimson Tide.