Auburn wins Iron Bowl of Soccer, earns tourney bid

Oct. 31, 2013

Auburn
Auburn
(7-8-4, 4-5-3 SEC)
 Match 19
1
2
F
 Alabama Crimson Tide
0
0
0
 Auburn Tigers
1
0
1

Alabama
(6-12-0, 4-7-0 SEC)

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. -- On a rainy Thursday night, the Auburn Tigers soccer team battled the elements but still managed to win its third consecutive Southeastern Conference match with a 1-0 victory over Alabama in the Iron Bowl of Soccer.

The Tigers learned later Thursday night that they had made the field for the Southeastern Conference Tournament and will play LSU at the Orange Beach Soccer Complex on Monday.

Auburn finished the regular season 7-8-4 overall and 3-5-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Alabama finished 6-12 and 4-7. It was was Auburn sixth win over Alabama in seven meetings.

"Credit to these girls," Auburn head coach Karen Hoppa said. "We had a rough go early in the conference season. I'm proud of this team to stay with it and stay the course. They never gave up on us. They never gave up on each other and now we're playing our best soccer. To end the last three to four weeks undefeated, phenomenal credit goes to this group and their leadership. I'm proud of them, no matter what happens."

Junior Chelsea Gandy-Cromer was the only one to find the back of the net in the tough conditions through all 90 minutes of play. In the final minute of the first half, Gandy-Cromer found herself open from about 10 yards away after a nice one-touch from Jordan Miller after the big kick from midfield by senior Kim Spence. As she was being tackled, Gandy-Cromer got enough strength on her left foot to beat the keeper on the right side for her fourth goal of the season. For Miller, it's her second assist of the season.

"Typical Auburn and Alabama," Hoppa said. "They played tough and it was very difficult. We were lucky to go into the half at 1-0 and it was a great goal by Chelsea. She's obviously not had one in a while, but she picked the right time to get back on the board for us. It was a big-time goal for us. 

It was a story of defenses in the first half as both Auburn and Alabama struggled to get good looks at goal. The Crimson Tide led the shots category at the halfway point, but only two were on frame.

On the other side, the Tigers tallied three shots with one on goal. However, that one shot hit pay-dirt as Gandy-Cromer found the net from 10 yards out for her fourth goal of the season.

The second half was played very aggressively between both teams as the rain continued to fall, but the Auburn defense continued to hold steady as it had done in the last five matches. Junior goalkeeper, Alicen Wright, who won third-straight match, turned away four Crimson Tide shots and the defense limited their counterparts to only nine shots total, three in the first half.

Late in the second half, Alabama had multiple looks at the net with a couple shots going off the crossbar, but the Auburn defense cleared the ball away each time to hold the advantage and eventually the win.

Auburn will face the LSU Tigers on Monday in the first match of the SEC Tournament with first kick slated for 4 p.m. in Orange Beach, Ala.   

For complete coverage on the Auburn soccer team, visit AuburnTigers.com, follow @AU_Soccer on Twitter and `like' the Auburn University Soccer page on Facebook.