Sept. 23, 2005
COLUMBIA, S.C. - Kristin Stewart's second-half goal broke open a scoreless game and propelled the Auburn soccer team to a 1-0 victory over South Carolina in the Southeastern Conference opener for both teams on Friday night at Stone Stadium. The win snapped a three-game winless streak for the Tigers, who moved to 2-5-1, 1-0-0 SEC on the season.
"This is what we were looking for," AU Head Coach Karen Hoppa said. "This kind of win is what this team is capable of. The girls did a great job of putting this one away."
Stewart's second goal of the season came as a result of constant pressure in front of the Carolina net by the Tigers midway through the second half. Sara Power had the first shot at the Carolina goal during a minute of constant pressure, only to get the ball blocked by the USC defense. Stewart then corralled the rebound and, after putting a move on the defender, dribbled forward and shot from 16 yards out. The shot again found the legs of the Carolina defense but the shot kept on towards the net and the deflection only fooled Carolina keeper Laura Armstrong and slowly rolled past her to her right, giving AU the 1-0 lead.
"It's a new season and we came out here and put it away," Stewart said. "We all had resolutions for the year and mine was to shoot more, so there you go."
"We play tough every time, but preserving the shutout makes a statement that our defense is strong and our offense is strong and we are not going to let you get through," AU defender Ashley Eason said.
Anna Fiser made two saves in net for the Tigers, who opened up their self-proclaimed `new year' with the victory.
The first half was a half of missed opportunities for both teams as both had plenty of chances to score. Auburn's two best chances came from in close as Leah Blayney fired a crossing-shot from 16-yards out and to the right of Armstrong, forcing the Gamecock netminder to make a diving move to her left to make the save. Later on in the period it was Courtney Crandell who was inside the inner box and put one past Armstrong, but Crandell had committed a foul before taking the shot, negating the goal.
USC also had a couple of close calls in the first half, most notably two headers from inside the inner box that both went wide.
The scoreless first half for the Tigers was the fourth time that Auburn was not able to light up the scoreboard in the first 45 minutes of play this season.
The Tigers stay on the road for an SEC game at No. 10-ranked Florida on Sunday. The game is set to start at 12:30 p.m. CT and can be heard on the internet at www.auburntigers.com as well as locally in the Auburn-Opelika area on WZMG 910 AM.