After being outscored by five goals in its first four SEC matches, Alabama soccer found the back of the net four times in its 4-3 win against Kentucky on Thursday.
“It means a lot definitely, because we lost four in a row in the SEC,” forward Casey Wertz said. “I feel like it definitely gives us a bunch of life. We needed it.”
It looked like Alabama was going to cruise to victory early on, as it took a three-goal advantage by the 26-minute mark. Christina Maartensson, Wertz and Taylor Morgan each scored in that span.
However, Kentucky started its comeback late in the first half. Tanya Samarzich put up two shots in the last 2:18 and scored on both. Both goals were her first of the season.
“I think we just got complacent and got causal,” Alabama coach Wes Hart said. “Against an SEC caliber opponent, you got to finish games. You got to finish halves. You rest for a second, and you can get punished.”
Just four minutes into the second half, forward Abbie Boswell collected the ball and flipped it over the Kentucky back line, right to Wertz. She gained control of the ball, evaded a sliding keeper and tapped the ball into the net, doubling Alabama’s lead.
Thirty-five seconds later, the lead was back to one when Gretchen Mills launched a 23-foot shot that hit off the cross-bar and dropped in for a goal.
Alabama keeper Alex Plavin settled down after that goal. She faced eight more shots and made all four of her saves to hold off the Wildcats.
Alabama’s offense had been nearly stagnate for most of its SEC play. It had scored just two goals, while being shutout in three of its four games.
“We did a great job of finding out target forwards,” Hart said. “Our game plan was to find balls into them… Some of our shots fell today. Some of those same shots we took last week or the week before just didn’t fall for us, and today they fell.”
Alabama is back in action Sunday as it travels to Starkville, Mississippi to take on Mississippi State.