Special to The Tuscaloosa News
The weather couldn’t stop the Alabama soccer team Sunday as it rolled to a 3-0 victory over Utah for the Crimson Tide’s first win of the season.
The game was delayed in the 34th minute due to lightning and play resumed an hour later.
Utah controlled the first 10 minutes with quick touches and quick passes, a style of play popular in the Pac-12. Neither team managed a shot on goal in the first 15 minutes but Alabama head coach Wes Hart still didn’t like what he saw, so he made three quick substitutions.
“Things just weren’t connecting out there at the start,” Hart said. “But we made some subs and adjustments and it changed the whole game. That’s what we stressed to our team all preseason. Everyone has to be ready to come off the bench and make a play.”
The Crimson Tide quickly took control after the subs and remained in the driver’s seat for the rest of the game. Utah’s fast pace was quickly negated by the Tide’s deliberate attacks and physical ball control.
A flurry of Bama shots led t0 a goal in the 31st minute when the ball landed on the foot of Junior defender Brynn Martin, who delivered a strike to the top-left corner from 25 yards out. Martin’s goal was the team’s first of the season after being shut out by BYU on Thursday.
The Tide showed no rust after the weather delay and finished the first half with five shots and 11 corner kicks while holding Utah to zero in both categories.
Junior forward Casey Wertz picked up where she left off last season, when she led the team in goals and shots on goal. She started with an impressive run in the 73rd minute when she tracked down a wide pass, beat her defender, and feathered a cross to freshman midfielder Macy Clem, who tapped home the pass for her first career goal. Wertz struck again in the 77th minute when she drew a foul in the box and scored on the ensuing penalty kick.
Utah managed some shots on goal in the final 10 minutes but were routine for junior goalkeeper Alex Plavin, who made four saves to preserve the shutout.
The Crimson Tide travels to Texas to face Rice on Thursday and Lamar on Sunday. Alabama hosts North Texas on Sept. 15.