Auburn’s historical win streak was bound to end sooner or later, but it took the No. 1 team in the nation to do so in a tightly contested top-10 matchup.
Defending national champion and No. 1 Florida State defeated the Tigers 2-1 at the Auburn Soccer Complex on Sunday.
“We learned a ton today. We got better as team today," said Auburn head coach Karen Hoppa. "We gave ourselves the chance to beat the No. 1 team in the country and now it’s our job to learn from this and take this into SEC play. I mean, there’s no better preparation for the SEC next week than this game today, and then we gotta work to earn a second shot on them in the playoffs.”
Auburn was outperformed by Florida State in the first half. The Tigers held the ball for just 34% of the first half’s possession and took only three shots in the first 45, while Florida State laid on 11.
The first pass from scrimmage led to a Seminole goal. Jody Brown launched a cross-field pass to Beata Olsson, who sprinted past the last of the Auburn defense and blasted the ball into the back of net, just 29 seconds into the match. The rest of the half wasn’t much better, the Tigers gave up another goal in the last 10 minutes of the half to go down 2-0 at halftime.
Auburn jumped out of the half looking like a different team. The Tigers got their first corner of the game just 30 seconds into the second half and had two more within the next four minutes.
Anna Haddock had the ball at her feet in the middle of the field with two defenders and the goalie in front of her. She advanced on the closest player, before tapping the ball ahead and to the left, which blew by the defender.
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Haddock then launched a high-arching curling ball over the goalie and into the top right corner of the net to notch her fifth goal of the season and put the Tigers first points on the board.
The first half shell-shocked Auburn fans dove back into the game following the Auburn goal and filled the rest of the second half with cheers, boos and Auburn fight chants. Saving their voices from the less-than eventful Auburn first half, fans made their presence known throughout the latter part of this match.
“Grace made a good pass to me and I just opened up my hips and saw the opportunity to take the girl one-on-one and find the back of net, and it was a good feeling,” Haddock said. “It was definitely something that we needed in that moment and we were that close to getting another one again and it’s just a really good and solid team performance for us in the second half.”
Auburn had the Seminoles reeling by the end of the second half. Multiple back-to-back scoring opportunities came from long sideline balls and dispossessions in the middle of the field. Though giving up two goals in the first part of the match, the Tiger defense chomped down and held Florida State to just two shots in the last 45, neither of which were on target.
“Obviously we didn’t come out exactly how we wanted to start in the first two minutes, but I think we’re a very responsive team and that really shows in the second half," Haddock said. "This is really something we can build on the rest of the year. Knowing that we played side-by-side with the best team in the country.”
Florida State tried to adjust and slow the impending Tiger attack by passing the ball back-and-forth between defenders and then launching a long ball to an open player downfield. However, the Tigers played spacing well and won each of these slow push attacks.
The Tigers best game-tying opportunity came with five minutes left in the game as Haddock took her place by the flag for another Auburn corner. She sent the ball flying into the 6-foot-2 M.E. Craven, who got a head on it, but the ball rolled harmlessly past the left side of the goal, maintaining the Seminoles' lead by one.
“Disappointed in the result but really proud of our team. We had chances to beat the number one team in the country and I thought we got better from first half to second half and the funny thing is, we had them on their heels," Hoppa said. "We had them a little bit rattled, a little pressure and we created some chances at the end, I thought we were gonna get that corner. So really happy from that standpoint. Obviously we always want the result, but happy with our performance, played with the number one team in the country and I think we showed we deserve to be a top-10 team.”
Auburn (6-1) will begin its SEC schedule by facing off against Georgia (7-1) on Friday, Sept. 17, at home at the Auburn Soccer Complex at 6:30 p.m. CST. The game will be broadcast SEC Network-plus.
“It’s a new season," Hoppa said. "We’ll come to practice tomorrow and our record is 0-0. We haven’t done anything yet. It’s SEC time, it’s a new season and this is the preseason if you will, and now the real season starts Friday.”
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