TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Everyone needs a rebound. In anything, in any area of life, it's most necessary when things haven't gone your way. It's a regulator, a way to return to equilibrium, and for Alabama soccer, at the expense of Utah Valley, that's what its Sunday evening match was to the Wolverines.
And, to spite its then-downward-trending 2021 season, the Crimson Tide wasn't the rebound this time.
"It's a lot more fun winning," Alabama coach Wes Hart said. "Soccer is a hard sport, though. There have been other games this season where we've had more chances and better chances and walked away with nothing."
A 3-0 win, and really any win, isn't particularly yawn-worthy for Alabama at the moment. Its SEC opener at Ole Miss a few days ago wasn't only a 3-1 defeat, but a loss that further sunk its season record to 4-5, enough to assumedly lock everyone's focus within the program on Utah Valley.
That much was evident, for that's how it played out upon opening whistle.
"We certainly capitalized on the chances we had, and it feels good that the players were rewarded tonight," Hart said.
Forward Ashlynn Serepca, Virginia-to-Alabama transfer and one of the Tide's top performers this year, scored early on in the 18th minute of play to give her side the 1-0 lead. Via header past Utah Valley keeper Brooklyn Nielson, the goal was assisted by midfielder Allie Berk.
"I think we create a lot of chances, but we haven't been able to put them away quite yet," Serepca said. "It's exciting to see it falling into place. We haven't connected that final piece, so today we were able to and it's exciting going into SEC play."
It was Serepca's fourth goal of the season, and it was when she first broke a sweat from any vantage point. She'd have more to contribute.
Though Alabama finished the first half with six shots and four on goal, the transfer forward supplied the Crimson Tide its best opportunities at all points tonight.
And she'd strike again, nearly in the same spot and this time with her right foot, to score her second goal of the match and extend Alabama's lead to 2-0 in the 25th minute, just seven 60-second intervals after her initial score.
After all, her performance was, well, imperative considering midfielder Reyna Reyes, the Tide's best on-grass chess player with her ability to manipulate opposing players and open spaces, was unavailable for a second consecutive match and didn't dress out as she's with the Mexico National Team camp preparing for World Cup qualifiers.
In the 46th minute, though, it seemed Alabama was fine without Reyes if only for tonight, as midfielder Macy Clem put home the third goal of the match for Alabama and all but secured the Crimson Tide's return to the win column. The score then read 3-0 in favor of the home side, and Serepca, to cap a two-goal performance, also assisted on the play.
"We get in our attacking third a lot, but sometimes we let it slip away and we've unfortunately gotten unlucky in the past couple games with those," Serepca said. "I think just players being confident and just having that willingness to make runs into the box, from our midfielders and from our forwards, is what we're going to need going forward."
The Crimson Tide finished with 15 total shots and seven on target.
Alabama moves to 5-5 on the season, and the Crimson Tide next plays Thursday at 7 p.m. CT as it hosts Missouri for its second SEC match of the fall.
"This is huge for their psyche," Hart said. "But in order to beat Mizzou, we have to bring it."
This story will be updated.