Nov. 5, 2008
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. -
For the third time in the last four seasons, Tennessee ended Auburn's run in the SEC Tournament as Auburn fell, 2-1, on Wednesday afternoon in the opening round of the conference tournament. The loss marked the third straight season that Auburn failed to get out of the first round.
"It's a disappointment to lose in the first round because we are better than how we played today," Auburn Head Coach Karen Hoppa said. "Tennessee had the emotional advantage. They lost to us 10 days ago and they had revenge in mind and wanted to come back and prove themselves. It's no excuse for us. We knew it and we have been in this situation before and we didn't bring the emotional level to start this game."
Auburn is 11-8-2 after the loss, winning four of its last five matches, but the team must await the NCAA selection show to see if it's regular season showing was enough to warrant a third-straight and seventh-overall bid to the national tournament. The selection show will air at 7pm CT on ESPNews.
"We should be in (the NCAA Tournament). Our RPI was 38th and we have a ton of quality wins, a fantastic late-season performance and we have an unbelievable strength of schedule. The SEC is a very strong league and the SEC should get at least five teams in depending on who wins this tournament. We should be fine but you never know until your name comes up on the board."
Tennessee (9-10-0) came out firing in the first half and connected on the first shot of the game, scoring just 2:04 in when Tanya Emerson rifled a shot from the top corner of the 18 off of a feed from Devon Swaim for her first goal of the season. The goal was the quickest allowed by Auburn this season.
"We just started slow at the beginning of the game," Hoppa said. "We knew Tennessee would be playing for their NCAA lives since they are under .500 and we just started too slow. We really played the most timid half we have played in over a month."
Tennessee kept mounting the early pressure and was able to take five shots to Auburn's one in the first 15 minutes before Auburn was able to rally back and outshoot Tennessee 9-7 in the first half. Auburn's best scoring chance didn't come until there was just under six minutes remaining in the first half, however. Kori Hoelscher took the initial shot just outside the six, and that was blocked by a Tennessee defender right to Julie King, who fired the one-timer only to have Tennessee's goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson make the save.
Trailing at the half for just the fifth time this season, Auburn did it's best to get the equalizer early in the second half but could not find a way to get one past Johnson or the Tennessee defense. Rebecca Howell had a great feed from Kara Kasten just three-and-a-half minutes after intermission but her cross into the box was sent out by the Tennessee defense. A minute later Gabi Rivera's shot sailed high. Six minutes later it was Rivera giving Kasten the chance, and her shot forced Johnson to make the diving save to her left.
Tennessee was able to take a 2-0 lead in the 57th minute when Mick Imgram scored from just outside the 18, shooting to the opposite post for her second goal of the season.
Three minutes after Imgram's goal a Tennessee defender was whistled for pulling Rivera down in the box, forcing Auburn's second penalty kick of the season. Senior defender Jenn Johnson was tabbed by the coaches to take the shot, and she connected for her second career goal, pulling Auburn to within a goal with 28 minutes remaining but Auburn was unable to get the equalizer.
Auburn finished the match with 18 shots to Tennessee's 10, holding Tennessee to just three shots after the half.