AUBURN, Ala. - It was another near perfect defensive game for the Tigers on Sunday afternoon as they held Georgia Southern to only three shots, none of which were on goal, to secure a 3-0 victory and the Auburn Soccer Classic championship.
Auburn tallied 22 shots of their own on the offensive end, nine finding the target. Junior Sophie Simantel, senior Tori Ball and junior Logan Beal all notched goals in the win, giving the Tigers their third straight victory and a sweep of the weekend.
"It's always good to get a win on a really hot summer day," head coach Karen Hoppa said. "I didn't think it was our best performance overall, but when we don't play our best and can still come away with a 3-0 against a really good team, I'll take that."
Along with being named tournament champions, the Tigers' own Kala Faulkner also took home the Defensive MVP honors for the weekend. Faulkner was part of a defense that allowed no goals over two days of play and limited offenses from UC Irvine and Georgia Southern to only four shots, none of which found the target.
"Our defensive line has been awesome," Hoppa said. "I think the outstanding performance on the weekend in our defense has been Kala Faulkner. She was just incredibly running down and leading our defense. No matter who we shuffled in there with her, she kept us calm, she kept us organized. She also kept the other team from getting any quality chances."
On the other side, Georgia Southern's Melinda Lukas took home the Offensive MVP award. Even though she only had one shot on Sunday, she was responsible for both of the Eagles' goals in their 2-1 win over Indiana on Friday. Lukas was the only player in this weekend's tournament to net more than one goal.
In Sunday's match, the Tigers wasted no time lighting up the scoreboard as a corner kick in the sixth minute found the foot of Casie Ramsier, who then passed to Chelsea Gandy-Cromer right in front of the goal line. With great patience, Gandy-Cromer passed at the last second to a wide open Simantel, who kicked it home for the game's first goal. For Simantel, it was also her first goal of the season and her second of her career.
About 20 minutes later, Auburn found the back of the net again, this time from the senior, Ball. After a stalled offensive possession, redshirt sophomore Alex Massey made an interception and a quick pass behind the defense where a streaking Ball stayed onsides and delivered the ball with a nice flip over the keeper to make it 2-0. It was Ball's first goal of the 2014 campaign and Massey's first assist.
The score remained 2-0 at halftime and seemed like it was going to stay that way at the final horn, but Auburn had other ideas. Looking to put away the game for good, the Orange and Blue got the goal they needed in the 75th minute.
After an Eagle deflection, the ball ricocheted to the top of the box where Beal was able to center it up and fire one right at the crossbar. The ball didn't hit the goal flush, but was able to drop behind the line for the game's third and final goal. It was Beal's second goal of the season as she now holds the overall team lead.
"In soccer, that third goal is so important because it usually puts a game away," Hoppa said. "We should have done better going into halftime. I felt like our possession in the second half could have been a lot better. It would have made it easier on us and not have to run as much if we could have knocked the ball more around."
Eight different Tigers have goals through the first four matches of the season, while 32 of 57 shots have been on goal. Junior Haley Gerken continues to lead the assist category, while Beal, Ramsier and Kristen Dodson are tied at the top of the team with four points.
Auburn goes back on the road next weekend when it travels to Oxford, Miss., to take part in the Rebel Classic. The team will face Memphis on Friday at 4:30 p.m. and Minnesota on Sunday at noon.