Auburn soccer continued to extend its win streak on Saturday, defeating No. 12 BYU 2-1 in the Tigers' home opener.
“Wow, what a night to have a full capacity stadium again," said head coach Karen Hoppa. "A packed house and that atmosphere was incredible. It really inspired the players. What a tremendous performance for our young group. We threw some tactics at them and in one day to prepare for a top-25 team and I'm really proud of the effort."
Sophomore Anna Haddock proved to be the difference maker in this ranked matchup, scoring two goals for the Tigers on five shots taken. Haddock has now scored three times in just two matches as the Tigers delve into their regular season schedule.
BYU started off strong countering the Auburn attack with quick strides up both sides of the field. The Auburn defenders quickly got under their feet and adapted to the BYU counterattack. Neither team reached the opposing goalie’s box until the fifth minute of the match.
Controlling tempo in the early minutes of the match, BYU had two corner opportunities and four shots taken before Auburn even got its first shot on goal. The Auburn defenders started to push back and play aggressive body-on-body defense, slowly disrupting the chemistry of the BYU attackers.
Momentum didn’t stay in BYU’s favor for long as the first goal of the match came in the 41st minute as freshman Carly Thatcher and redshirt sophomore Kylie Bechard passed around the ball in the goalie’s box before threading it to Haddock. Haddock then slipped the ball past the keeper and past the right goalpost, creating a 1-0 lead for the Tigers.
However, this Auburn lead was short-lived as BYU scored on the immediate counter after the Auburn goal. With just 18 seconds separating the two goals, the score level now sat 1-1 in the waning minutes of the half.
"We had about thirty seconds where we relaxed and that’s when [BYU] capitalized and scored the goal," Haddock said. "We knew when we went to the locker room for the rest of the game, if we were gonna come out on top we were gonna have to focus 100% of that last half."
The second half started off sloppy for Tigers with three quick fouls in the first five minutes. Sophomore Mallory Mooney was given a yellow card in the 65th minute. The foul was met with a chorus of boos from the packed-out rambunctious Auburn crowd. Following the card, the Tigers got a second wind of momentum and made strides toward the BYU goalies’ box from the left side of the field.
Auburn’s fifth-year Alyssa Malonson shook a defender just outside the box before threading in across to Haddock with pinpoint accuracy for a streaking header to make the score 2-1 in the 67th minute.
“Two of your top players stepping up in a big-time moment," Hoppa said. "Great ball from Alyssa and Anna is a clutch player in big moments, so you want on the ball and she took care of it.”
Following the goal, the game was all Tigers, as the BYU defense began to stay back after attack and attack by Auburn's front forward. Three Auburn shots and three corners came in the 10 minutes following the goal. BYU made an attempt at another shot that was grabbed mid-air by Auburn’s sophomore goalkeeper Maddie Prohaska.
BYU had one more promising attack entering Auburn’s final third in the 88th minute before passing the ball offsides, ultimately giving the ball back to the Tigers in the final seconds of the match.
“We talked about it at halftime, if you’re the underdog, if you go to the locker room tied up with a 45-minute game, that’s to your advantage,” Hoppa said. “We fed off the crowd and the energy and boy, what a tremendous second half to win...and that’s all we had to do and got the result.”
Auburn moves on to 2-0 on the season, with its next matchup on the road against Troy on Aug. 26.
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Larry is a senior studying journalism with a minor in sociology. He is from Enterprise, Alabama and is in his third year with The Auburn Plainsman.