Nov. 6, 2005
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - Tennessee's Emily Redberg's unassisted goal in the 79th minute along with an attacking UT offense kept the Auburn offense off the board as the Tigers fell to the Lady Vols, 1-0, in the championship game of the 2005 SEC Soccer Tournament. The loss ends the Tigers' season as 8-12-1.
"All week we have been playing our best soccer of the year," AU Head Coach Karen Hoppa said. "Tennessee came out and played an unbelievable second half and really had us pinned in for long periods of time, which took away our attack. We couldn't clear the ball late and Tennessee put it in.
"I was an unbelievable effort to go from a sixth-seed to the championship game," Hoppa said.
Ronda Brooks was named the Tournament MVP as she scored two game-winning goals in the tournament and anchored a defense that allowed just two goals in three games at the tournament.
"It means a lot (to be named MVP)," Brooks said. "I was actually surprised because there are a lot of great players in this league. I knew coming in I was going to have to play hard and keep this defense together and that is exactly what we did."
Redberg's goal came after more than 30 minutes of almost constant second-half pressure from the Lady Vols (14-5-2) as the Tigers allowed 16 second-half shots, the most AU has allowed in a half this season. Redberg found the back of the net after her initial shot was stopped, but the deflection came right back to her and she angled her second attempt to the back-right corner for the game-winner.
The Tigers had the first solid scoring chance of the game 13-minutes in as Courtney Crandell found herself without a defender between her and the Tennessee goalkeeper but her shot from just outside the 18-yard box went wide to the left.
Two minutes later it looked like Brooks and Crandell would connect for a goal off of an Auburn corner for the third time in the tournament. Crandell served in a corner from the near flag right to a leaping Brooks, but her header found the awaiting arms of UT goalkeeper Vanessa Phillips-Bosshart.
A little less than three minutes after Brooks' near connection on the corner it was Ashley Willis who tried to put one past Phillips-Bosshart. "Shorty", as Willis is known, found herself on a breakaway after a feed down the middle of the field but her shot from the top of the 18-yard box also found the midsection of the UT keeper.
After seeing most of the action take place down on the UT end of the field in the first half, the Volunteers turned the tables, spending a good portion of the next 25 minutes on the Auburn side of the midfield stripe, forcing Anna Fiser to make a couple of saves to preserve the scoreless first half.
With nearly 29 minutes off the clock it was UT's Kylie Rossi who found an open lane towards the AU net but her shot from the top of the 18 found the awaiting Fiser. A minute-and-a-half later Fiser needed to cutoff an on-rushing Volunteer on the near side to keep the game scoreless.
The scoreless first half marked the seventh time this season that neither Auburn nor its opponent could find the back of the net in the opening 45 minutes of play.
"Our defense did a great job. Obviously it is the heart-and-soul of our team. You can tell that by Ronda being the MVP, Ashley Eason being named all-SEC and all-tournament and Jenn Johnson and Lauren Stewart, those four make a great back line. They did a great job of keeping the Tennessee offense off the board and Anna Fiser did a great job of cleaning up behind them. They kept us in it and we just couldn't find the offensive rhythm."
After the intermission it was all UT again as Auburn could not get a substantial attack on the Lady Vol side of the field until 12 minutes had ticked off the clock, and even then, the shots were near-impossible to take as the Lady Vols collapsed on the passing lanes and cleared the ball time-after-time.
Auburn's best chance to score came at the 70-minute mark as Willis raced down the far sideline and served a cross to the near-side of the UT net, but it was just inches away from a sliding Kori Hoelscher, who was left alone with an open net in front of her.
Auburn had one final rush in the final 30 seconds, but with Crandell bearing down on her, Phillips-Bosshard came out and snuffed the Tigers' final scoring chance.
The Tigers were held without a second-half shot, the second time Tennessee held the AU offense without a shot, the other coming during the first half in Knoxville.
The one-goal game was the 13th of the season for the Tigers, who finished 4-9 in those situations this year.
"It was one of those seasons where we didn't get a break. One-goal games in soccer can go either way," Hoppa said.