Auburn just couldn’t find its footing on the pitch against its biggest rival, Alabama, on Thursday losing 1-0.
From the the first tap of the ball from kickoff, Alabama looked like the more energized team.
The Tide held the majority of the game‘s possession against No.19 Auburn and found an 82nd minute goal to beat the Tigers 1-0 in both teams’ final match of the regular season.
"The bottom line is we just didn't play as well as we're capable of playing," said Auburn head coach Karen Hoppa. "A lot of that is credit to Alabama. They played a great game. We had plenty of good looks but just couldn't finish or get them on frame. That's something we've got to solve before tournament play."
Auburn was on pace to secure a bye in the Southeastern Conference Tournament with a win or a tie against the Tide. Rather the Tigers had to resort to waiting for the other SEC games to finish to find out their seeding after the loss. In the end, both Alabama and Auburn walked away from the game with a first-round bye, and a break from playing on Sunday.
The Tigers are the fifth seed in the annual SEC Tournament and will play South Carolina for their first match, the program’s 21st consecutive appearance in the single-elimination tourney.
"It's huge," Hoppa said. "I'm really proud of this team to earn that bye. It's massive to put [yourself] in the best position possible to try to win the tournament.”
Auburn goalie Maddie Prohaska held out as long as she could against an unrelenting Alabama attack, diving to save what looked like a sure-fire goal to keep her Tigers level in the 11th minute, and coming away with four total saves in the first half.
Auburn pushed back in the second half, sending forward Sydney Richards up the left sideline for a pair of goal-scoring opportunities that just couldn't find their way on target.
Anna Haddock led the way on the offensive attack with four shots, Hannah Waesch followed her up with three.
Auburn almost found a game-tying score late in the 78th minute when a Haddock through-ball found its way to Marissa Arias on the near post, but her shot curled away, bouncing off the post and out of bounds for an Alabama goal kick.
A few minutes later, Alabama’s offense found a player standing all alone on the left wing and passed her a through ball. Aislin Streicek advanced on defender Hailey Whitaker into Prohaska’s box and got past her defender with a toe tap to the sideline.
The forward passed a ball on the ground into the front of Auburn’s goal where Allie Berk was awaiting, unmarked and uncontested when she flicked the ball into the net for the leading score to put the Tide up 1-0 in the waning minutes of the game. This was Berk's second goal of the season.
Auburn had just a few more chances for an equalizer but came up empty, eventually watching its rival hoist the Iron Bowl trophy into the air after the sound of the buzzer.
After clinching the bye, Auburn now will have four days to regroup before it travels to Orange Beach, Alabama.
No. 5 seed Auburn will face off against No. 4 seed South Carolina in its first match of the SEC Tournament on Tuesday, Nov. 2 at 7:30 p.m. CST.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.
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.