By Tommy DiCostanzo
Special to Tidesports
The Alabama soccer team got off to a hot start in its Thursday night game against South Carolina but it wasn’t enough as the No. 9 ranked Gamecocks got the 5-2 win.
The Tide scored the first two goals on their first two shots. Freshman midfielder Reyna Reyes opened the scoring when she headed a corner kick off the foot of junior midfielder Kaley Verpaele in the 11th minute.
The Tide took a two-goal lead when Casey Wertz capitalized off of a penalty kick drawn by midfielder Taylor Morgan in the 22nd minute. Wertz’s initial shot was stopped by Gamecocks goalkeeper Mikayla Krzeczowski but Wertz followed the rebound and put it in the back of the net.
The score tied Wertz with Riley Mattingly for the team lead in goals with four.
Alabama coach Wes Hart was glad to see his team capitalize on the South Carolina mistakes.
“They don’t make many mistakes and sure enough tonight they made a couple mistakes and we capitalized on them but we weren’t good enough to stop them from scoring goals,” he said.
The Gamecocks started scoring goals less than 2 minutes after Wertz scored and they kept going until they scored five, the most given up by the Tide all season.
Reyna Reyes was called for a foul just outside the box at the end of the half and South Carolina’s Jyllisa Harris made her pay by putting a laser right past Tide goalkeeper Alex Plavin. The Gamecocks entered halftime with a 7-2 shot advantage and momentum clearly on their side.
The Gamecocks wasted no time to solidify their lead in the second half. Luciano Zullo scored three minutes into the half and Elexa Bahr added to the lead just four minutes later. Bianca Galassini notched the final tally in the 72nd minute.
The Tide made a push to score in the final ten minutes but it was no use against the Gamecocks, who have won all but one of their games this season.
“They are easily the best team we’ve played this year and probably one of the best teams I’ve seen during my time here,” said Hart. “The way they stretch the field out, their movement, their activity, their comfort level on the ball, their pace and everything about them, they’re a dangerous team and we just didn’t have an answer for them tonight.”
The Tide travel to Knoxville to take on Tennessee Sunday at noon and return home to play Mississippi State on Oct. 4. After that game, the movie Coco will be played on the big screen and all spectators are welcome to watch the movie from the field.