Auburn’s fall season ended on Tuesday with a 4-3 loss to No. 1 seed Arkansas in the SEC Tournament quarterfinals in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Much like the regular-season meeting between the two, Arkansas got ahead early, and Auburn worked its way back in the second half but fell short of a comeback.
Auburn's defense, which had been solid for most of the season, finally cracked, conceding the most goals they've allowed all year in the loss.
“We dug a big hole in the first half, not taking care of business on set pieces, but I’m really proud of the second half,” said head coach Karen Hoppa.
The defense gave up four goals within the first 22 minutes of the first half. After the early Arkansas attack, the Tigers regrouped and held the Razorbacks scoreless for the remainder of the game.
Arkansas played with constant pressure to win the ball high up the pitch and create set pieces. Auburn in the second half switched to a press and was rewarded with set-pieces themselves.
Four of the six combined goals came off corner kicks.
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The Auburn attack came out ready to start the second half. The high pressure was rewarded with two goals off corners within 10 minutes of the second half. Like Auburn in the first half, Arkansas could not clear the ball from the defensive third.
“I think we take away that our young group can play with anyone in the country,” Hoppa said. “Arkansas is one of the top teams in the country, and that 45 minutes we dominated. We won the second half 3-0, and we need to learn from that and be able to put together a 90-minute performance like that second half.”
Auburn's three second-half goals are the most scored by Auburn in a game this season and tie the program record for most goals scored in an SEC Tournament half.
Freshman Anna Haddock scored a free-kick goal in the 87th minute to put the Tigers within one. That was the first goal of Haddock’s Auburn career. Haddock also assisted on the first two goals to put Auburn within reach of the comeback, but it was too little too late.
“With our young group I think it’s something to build on, and we’re excited for the future with this team,” Hoppa said.
The Tigers' fall season ends with the loss, but Auburn will return to the Plains and await more information on what the spring season will look like.
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