For the first time in nearly two weeks, Auburn soccer returned home to play host to the visiting Tennessee Volunteers, beginning a stretch of nine consecutive SEC games that will close out its season.
The first 39 minutes of the game were strictly defense, with Tennessee leading the Tigers in shots on goal. The scoreless trend was broken by redshirt sophomore Kori Locksley, who scored her first collegiate goal in the 40th minute of the match, propelling Auburn to a 1-0 lead that would wind up holding for the remainder of the game.
“To be able to start conference play this way is massive,” head coach Karen Hoppa said. “I think it’s going to give our young group some confidence. Credit to Tennessee, who made it a tough game for us, but I’m really proud of my team and the way we executed tonight.”
Locksley was by far the most celebrated of the team’s players; however, the Tigers’ other hero was keeper Kate Hart. Hart faced a total of five shots on goal — and another five corner kicks — and managed to keep the Volunteers scoreless for all 90 minutes.
“We came out with a lot of energy and got after it right away,” Hart said. “We kept it going in the second half, and that was huge. We buckled down, and it’s obviously great to get a shutout.”
Thursday’s win over UT moved the tigers to a perfect 2-0 record in SEC play, and a 5-3-2 record overall. Auburn is currently tied for first place in the SEC race, and looks to add another tally in the win column this Sunday in against Ole Miss in Oxford.
“It’s a great position being 2-0, but we can’t get comfortable,” Locksley said. “We have to keep pushing. We just have to stick to the game plan so we can continue to get wins.”
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