Oct. 7, 2005
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Senior Ashley Willis scored two goals and assisted on another two as the Auburn soccer team defeated Mississippi State, 5-0, on Friday night at the MSU Soccer Field. The two goals were the first two goals of Willis' career as the Tigers (4-7-1, 3-2-0 SEC) handed the Bulldogs (1-8-3, 0-5-0 SEC) their worst loss in over five seasons.
"I couldn't be more pleased with the effort," AU Head Coach Karen Hoppa said. "We knew we would start clicking pretty soon and we did tonight. Jenn Johnson's goal put the game away just a minute into the second half, which was something we talked about at the half, making sure that Mississippi State did not get back into the game."
The Tigers used two breakaway goals in the first half to take a 2-0 halftime lead as both Kristin Stewart and Willis found the back of the net, setting up the Tigers for a big night.
Stewart scored her fourth goal of the season off of a long pass from Willis, who had taken control of the ball after an MSU defender turned it over near the midfield circle. After a few dribbles, Willis passed the ball up to Stewart, who moved into the 18-yard box and then fired one to the right of MSU keeper Emily Meyers just 9:23 into the game.
Stewart returned the favor to Willis a few minutes later as Stewart dribbled down the left side of the field and crossed a long pass to Willis who fired a shot from just inside the 18-yard box that hit the left post and ricocheted back into the net at the 26:28 mark. The goal was the first of Willis' four-year career with the Tigers.
"It is pretty exciting. A big weight has been lifted," Willis said of her first goal. "Finally scoring felt great. Everyone played awesome and everything finally came together."
Freshman Jenn Johnson made it a 3-0 game just over a minute into the second half as she took a pass from Willis, who found a loose ball after a scramble in front of the net, and Johnson buried it into the lower righthand corner for the first goal of her career.
Willis cemented the outcome just three minutes after Johnson's goal as she took a long feed from Jada Stewart from the midfield and outraced an MSU defender to the ball. Willis then fired in her second goal of the game at the 47:38 mark of the game.
Leah Blayney scored her third of the season with 2:59 left in the game as she collected a long deflection after a corner kick and put it in from 15-yards out for the final tally of the night.
The five goals were the most scored by the Tigers in a game this season and the two first-half goals marked the first time that the Tigers have scored two in the first frame of a game this season.
Stewart's goal was her third game-winner of the season and marked a new single-season career high for the junior.
The victory was the biggest for the Tigers since Sept. 31, 2002 when AU defeated Middle Tennessee by the same score. The loss was MSU's worst since Oct. 26, 2001, when the Bulldogs fell to Florida, 6-0.
The Tigers stay on the road for a 1 p.m. contest at Ole Miss on Sunday. Fans wishing to listen to the game can do so on WZMG 910 AM in the Auburn-Opelika area or on the internet at www.auburntigers.com.