Oct. 25, 2009
AUBURN, Ala. - Rebecca Howell made sure that her final regular season match at the Auburn Soccer Complex would be a special one as the senior scored two goals to lead Auburn to a 2-0 win over No. 19 Georgia on Sunday afternoon. The win clinched a ninth consecutive berth in the SEC Soccer Tournament for Auburn and also secured Auburn's first win over a ranked team since the 2007 season.
"This is the best soccer we have played all year and that's exactly what we need to do, peaking at the end of the season. Becca Howell gave us two goals and our senior class just played fantastic," Auburn Head Coach Karen Hoppa said. "This is the offense we needed and this is how we knew we could play."
Howell finished the match with four shots, all of them on frame, and had the first multi-goal game of her career, collecting her sixth and career-high seventh goals of the season.
"This is an amazing win for our team. Georgia is a ranked opponent and they are really good. We just really wanted to beat them today," Howell said. "The whole team played great and it started with our backline. We had the momentum from the start of the game and we carried it until the end."
Goalkeeper Amy Howard made seven saves to earn her fourth shutout of the season, including two spectacular diving saves in the final five minutes of the match to preserve the blanking. The seven saves gave her 101 on the season and she needs just two more to move into second all-time on the Auburn single-season saves list.
The win moved Auburn to 8-7-3 overall and 5-5-0 SEC while Georgia fell to 13-4-1, 6-4-0 SEC.
The two teams played a scoreless first half before Howell went to work on the Georgia backline. Her first goal came in the 56th minute when she battled through a trio of Georgia defenders and slotted a ball to the far post past Georgia goalkeeper Michelle Betos.
"Any time I get the ball 1v1, (assistant coach) Amy Berbary tells me to go straight to goal and shoot and not pass and I took her advice," Howell said of the goal.
Howell collected her second goal 23 minutes later when she created a turnover and collected the loose ball in the box, again beating Betos to her right-hand side, helping Auburn pick up a second-consecutive win over Georgia for just the second time in program history.
"We work on forward defending all the time and there is nothing better than a forward picking a defender off and getting the ball and as soon as you do that you just go straight to goal every time," Howell said.
Caitlin King's play helped Howell get the shots that she did as King fired off four shots on Betos. The Georgia keeper was forced to make a season-high nine saves on 14 Auburn shots, with all but three of Auburn's shots going on frame.
Howell now has 21 career goals and became just the seventh player in Auburn history to break the 60-point barrier for a career as she reached 63 career points on the afternoon.
Auburn is in sixth place in the SEC standings with one match remaining.
Auburn's last win over a ranked team was on Oct. 12, 2007, a 2-0 win over No. 19 LSU.
Auburn closes out the regular season on Friday at 7pm against arch-rival Alabama in the annual Iron Bowl of Soccer Match.