Nov. 10, 2012
SEATTLE, Wash. - The Auburn soccer team jumped out to a two-goal lead just 15 minutes in to the match and then hung on to defeat Washington, 2-1, in the NCAA Tournament First Round. The win, Auburn's first-ever on an opponent's home field in NCAA Tournament action, advances Auburn into the second round for the second straight year and the sixth time overall.
"It's always difficult to win in this tournament, especially on the road, and I think our team just gutted it out," Auburn Head Coach Karen Hoppa said. "We knew we would face adversity. Washington is a great opponent. We caught a couple of breaks in front of the goal and I thought Amy Howard made some great saves and great plays on services in the second half to keep us in it. We are real excited to live to play another day."
Despite being out-shot (15-9) and out-cornered (10-4) by Washington (10-8-3), Auburn (13-10-1) rode the momentum of the two early goals to its' first-ever win over a Pac-12 school.
Tori Ball lit the board just 2:12 minutes into the match to give Auburn the early advantage. A Mary Coffed cross into the box created havoc in front of the Washington net. Ball, who was in the six along with Ana Cate, had two attempts at the goal. The first went off the mitts of Washington goalkeeper Kari Davison and right back to Ball, who sent it in for her sixth goal of the season.
Auburn's attack struck again at 14:13 as it capitalized on a corner for its third goal off that particular set piece this year. Ball was again involved, serving the ball to a crashing Mary Nicholson, who headed it in for her first goal of the year and a 2-0 Auburn lead. The goal was the second of Nicholson's career and the first since a 4-1 win over Middle Tennessee State on Aug. 26, 2011.
"Tori had a perfect corner kick," Nicholson, a defender, said. "Our offense played well to get the corner and she served a perfect ball in. I have been thinking about scoring a goal for pretty much my entire career. It was pretty exciting to get one, and a big one at that."
From that point on it was up to Howard and the rest of the defense to hold Washington off the board.
"From the get-go (Washington) got end line and got some serves in and their players were hard," Howard said. "Our defense played awesome but they definitely gave us a run for our money. They were very good."
Lindsay Elston would not let Washington go down without a fight as she put the Huskies on the board in the 38th minute with her 11th goal of the season, striking a ball from 40 yards out over Howard, who leapt but couldn't get a glove on the ball to make a 2-1 advantage going into the half.
Howard had to make two big saves in the second half as Washington found itself on the doorstep multiple times but was only able to put two of its seven second-half shots on frame.
"(Washington) was coming at us but our defense was throwing their bodies at the ball, blocking shots," Howard said. "As a team we really came together and won it as a team."
Auburn has to wait until Saturday afternoon to see who it will play and where in the Second Round as the BYU-Utah State game was postponed because of snow in Provo, Utah. Should BYU win Auburn would travel to Provo to face BYU but should Utah State win Auburn would most likely head to Milwaukee, Wis., to face Utah State as Marquette, the No. 4 seed in the bracket, already won.
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