Women’s soccer hosts first of three spring games


CW / Hannah Saad

Javon Williams | @JavonCW, Contributing Writer

After defeating UAB in Birmingham last weekend to open its spring season, Alabama soccer returns back home for a home game against Tennessee on Saturday.

Three seniors — goalkeeper Alex Plavin, forward Chloe Maize and defender Nealy Martin — graduated after the regular season ended, but the focus of the spring season is looking ahead.

“We look at the spring as a clean slate altogether, a new beginning.” coach Wes Hart said. “We’re not trying to make any wholesale changes. We feel like we are in a good place right now and headed in a great direction.”

Filling the roster spots of those three freshman are three early-enrolled freshmen: midfielder/forward Taylor Carter, defender Gessica Skorka, and goalkeeper McKinley Crone, a transfer from Oklahoma.

In the 4-1 win over UAB last Saturday, Skorka and Carter got their first career minutes, with Carter also making her first collegiate goal. She scored the team’s final goal in the 79th minute.

“They fit in nicely,” Hart said. “Watching them, you would have never guessed that they were essentially high school seniors.”

Crone is currently sidelined due to injury, but once she’s healthy Hart expects her to compete with freshman A.J. Crooks, who started 11 of 20 games in the fall, and redshirt sophomore Kaylee Hammer for the starting goalkeeper position. Hart said Hammer and Crooks will split matches until Crone recovers.

“Just like any position out there, they’re all up for grabs,” Hart said. “Present performance will dictate playing time.”

The players utilize the unofficial spring season to hone their skills and prepare for the fall.

“There are three different things that I am trying to focus on: my one-on-one defending, staying connected with my backline and then becoming a better leader,” junior midfielder Kaley Verpaele said.

And though the record in the spring doesn’t count toward any postseason, Hart wants his team to remain focused on one goal: winning.

“We do take these spring games seriously,” Hart said. “We know the importance of trying to win games and getting in the habit of winning.”

Saturday’s game against Tennessee, the Crimson Tide’s second of five spring games, is scheduled to begin at noon.