Nov. 14, 2008
AUBURN, Ala. -
Auburn got back to its winning ways on Friday evening, knocking off Belmont, 2-0, to advance to the second round of the 2008 NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament for the first time since the 2004 season. Kara Kasten and Jenni Prescott each scored goals for Auburn, which will be trying to exact revenge on Florida State for an early season loss in Sunday's second round.
"Coming out hard and getting an early goal was key because it forced Belmont to come out and play a little bit more and get a few more numbers forward," Auburn Head Coach Karen Hoppa said. "That helped stretch the game to give us a little more space to be more possessive and play the style that we wanted to play."
First Team All-SEC goalkeeper Allison Whitworth was forced into making just one save on the evening, but it was a big one and it set the tone early for what turned into a huge win for Auburn. Just over four minutes in, Belmont's Erica Carter was able to split the defenders and pull Whitworth off her line, forcing the senior to make a sliding save, but it was all Auburn from there as Belmont was able to muster just four shots in the match, two in each half.
Kasten recorded what ultimately turned into the game-winning-goal in the 23rd minute when she took a feed from Rebecca Howell into the 18 and slotted a shot to the near post for a 1-0 lead. The goal was the seventh of the season for Kasten and the 15th of her career, moving her into a three-way tie for eighth in the Auburn record books for career goals. The assist was the 20th of Howell's career and 12th of the season while Gabi Rivera got the second assist on the goal, her ninth of the season.
"With a team like Belmont, they have kept everyone of their games between one or two goals. We knew we had to take advantage of a fast start," Kasten said.
SEC Freshman of the Year Katy Frierson had a chance to give Auburn a two-goal cushion in the 30th minute when her shot from the top of the 18 sent Belmont (13-7-3) keeper Sari Lin diving to her right, but Lin was able to make the save, one of nine on the evening for her.
Coming out of the break, Auburn (12-8-2) again kept mounting its pressure earning five corners in the half and taking 12 shots. Mary Nicholson's header following a Frierson corner forced another save by the laterally moving Lin but Auburn was finally able to go up 2-0 when Prescott collected her third goal of the season in the 70th minute. Stephanie Fransoso started the run up the near touch line for Auburn and advanced the ball almost to the goal line before sending a low cross toward the box. Kasten was able to tip the ball just enough to avoid the feet of a Belmont defender and find the uncovered Prescott for the juniors' seventh career goal.
Frierson again narrowly missed netting a goal in the 71st minute when she hit the crossbar and Caitlin King, seeing her first action since Sept. 26 at Kentucky, also was just off with a header that Lin was able to snatch out of the air in the 78th minute.
"The girls played a great game. It is fantastic to get the first NCAA win for all of these players," Hoppa said. "All of these players did what they needed to do to win the game. They scored a couple of goals and got really good possession and played really good soccer. I know they are excited to be down to the final 32 teams in the country."
Auburn's appearance in the second round is the program's fourth all-time, having reached it in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Two of those seasons ('02, and '03) it was eliminated by Sunday's opponent, Florida State, and each by a 2-1 count.
Florida State, the No. 2 seed in the region, advanced to the second round with a 7-0 win over Mississippi Valley State.
The two teams will face off at 2pm on Sunday with the winner advancing to next weekend's Sweet 16.
AUBURN GAME NOTES
- The win improved Auburn to 4-7-0 all-time in the NCAA Tournament
- Kara Kasten's goal ties her with Ronda Brooks (2003-06) and Sara Power (2001-05) for eighth on Auburn's career goals list
- Rebecca Howell's assist was the 12th of the season of her, giving her sole possession of third on Auburn's single-season saves list ... It was also the 20th of her career, which is fifth all-time at Auburn
- Howell now has 48 career points, putting her in sole possession of eight on Auburn's career points list
- The shutout was the eighth of the season for Allison Whitworth, equaling her total from the 2007 season, which is third all-time in a single-season ... It was also the 22nd of her career, tying her with Brittany Gillespie of Ole Miss (2000-03) for seventh in SEC history and second-most in Auburn history
- Auburn is 0-3-0 in three previous second round appearances, falling to Florida State by 2-1 counts in Tallahassee in 2002 and 2003 and then falling 1-0 to Washington in 2004
- Auburn has scored two goals in three of its four NCAA Tournament wins (2002, 2004, 2008)
- Auburn's 12 wins this season are its most since the 2004 season and the fifth time in program history that Auburn has achieved that mark
NCAA First Round Post-Game Quotes
Auburn vs. Belmont
Auburn Soccer Complex
Auburn head coach Karen Hoppa
On first NCAA Tournament win since 2004...
"The girls played a great game. It is fantastic to get the first NCAA win for all of these players. All of these players did what they needed to do to win the game. They scored a couple of goals and got really good possession and played really good soccer. I know they are excited to be down to the final 32 teams in the country.
"Coming out hard and getting that goal early was really key because it forced Belmont to come out and play a little bit more and get a few more numbers forward. That helped stretch the game to give us a little more space to be more possessive and play the style that we wanted to play.
On Caitlin King's return...
"We've missed her. The first half she was a little rusty, but she shook off that rust and the second half, she had two great chances. It's fantastic to see her back out there on the field. She has really been missed by all of us. It's been frustrating for her, but we're so happy to have her back."
Auburn Kara Kasten, forward
What was key for Auburn to come out with so much energy in the first half to get an early goal... "That was really important for us. With a team like Belmont, they have kept everyone one of their games between one or two goals. We knew we had to take advantage of a fast start."
On Florida State and having already played them earlier in the season...
"We have obviously come a long way since the beginning of the season. We are really excited to get to play them again."
Auburn Jenn Johnson, defender
On the win in response to the passing of Virgil Starks...
"It really means a lot because I know that if he was still with us he would have been beyond excited to be out here. It meant a lot to us because it would have meant a lot to him.
On Auburn's defense for Florida State in Sunday's game...
"We are going to bring it."
Belmont head coach Lisa Howe
On overall performance...
"As young as we are, this kind of experience was great for the program.
"The girls had a great Atlantic Sun tournament to get to this point. I thought we prepared very well and were ready for Auburn. When we got forward, they countered and got in behind us. We gave up the two goals that way, one in each half. Overall, I thought our play was fine for a young team. I thought we were composed. We played within our game plan.
"The defense was our strength. We will work on those other things as we go."
Jayme Trocino, Midfielder
On overall performance...
"From the beginning it was absolutely amazing to be here. I think we came out and gave absolutely everything we had. I'm not happy with the way it turned out, but I am happy with the effort we gave and I very proud of all of them. "
Did you meet/exceed your expectations?
"We expect ourselves to give 110 percent every time we step on the field and we absolutely did