NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Auburn soccer team (7-5-5, 4-2-4 SEC) battled back from a two-goal halftime deficit but ultimately came up short against Vanderbilt (11-6-1, 6-3-1) as the Tigers suffered a 2-1 defeat Thursday night at the Vanderbilt Soccer Complex.
Despite the result in Nashville, Auburn earned a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament and will advance to the quarterfinals by virtue of finishing in the top six in the league standings. The Tigers are the No. 6 seed and will take on No. 3 seed Florida Tuesday, Oct. 31 at 2:30 p.m. CT.
"We had an average first half but were great in the second half," head coach Karen Hoppa said. "We put a lot of pressure on them and were unlucky not to come out with a second goal. We're going to try to build on this momentum from the final 45 minutes and are excited to play in the quarterfinals Tuesday."
Freshman midfielder Rocio Sanders accounted for the Tigers' scoring in the match as she recorded her second goal of the season. Junior defender Taylor Troutman chipped in with her fourth assist of the season.
Vanderbilt took the lead in the 14th minute on a goal from outside the box in the upper 90. The Commodores then doubled their lead on a goal from just outside the six-yard box with less than a minute to play in the first half.
Auburn came out firing in the second half as the Tigers outshot Vanderbilt, 13-3, and cut the Commodores' lead in half with Sanders' goal in the 74th minute. The Orlando, Fla., native received a pass from Troutman from midfield, found herself in space from 30 yards out and drilled a right-footed strike past the Vanderbilt goalkeeper and into the upper 90.
The Tigers kept the pressure on in the final stages of the match as they continued to attack with three defenders playing up. However, after a shot off the cross bar and number of other near misses, Auburn ultimately came up short.
The top 10 teams in the SEC standings - South Carolina, Texas A&M, Florida, Vanderbilt, Tennessee, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Missouri - advance to the SEC Tournament to be held in Orange Beach, Ala., from Sunday, Oct. 29 through Sunday, Nov. 5.