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Transfers boost Tigers as soccer practice begins

Aug. 7, 2013

Sophomore Alex Massey transferred to Auburn from Nebraska

By Phillip Marshall

AUBURN, Ala. - A year ago, goalkeeper Alicen Wright was getting ready for her sophomore season at Texas Christian. Forward Alex Massey was getting ready for her freshman season at Nebraska.

Today, they began preseason practice at Auburn.

Karen Hoppa, heading toward her 15th season as Auburn head coach, says they proved in the spring they are valuable additions for an extremely young team. Fifteen of 23 players on Auburn's roster are freshmen or sophomores.

"I think both of them could make a real significant impact," Hoppa said. "We are really fortunate we got both of them here to start the spring semester. We had to scramble to get them both admitted, because they both grew a ton as players. They both got played in and learned our standards."

Wright and Massey traveled unusual paths to Auburn, but they say have found a home.

"There was a coaching change, and I just felt like that wasn't the place for me anymore," said Wright, from Chino Hills, Calif. "I started looking around for a place to go. I came on a visit and just fell in love with the place. I couldn't have asked for a better coaching staff, a better facility, a better place to play."

Her new teammates reached out and made her feel at home from the beginning.

"Everyone welcomed me with open arms," Wright said. "Everyone believes in me and pushes me. That's the environment I'd always wanted to have and I found it at Auburn."

Wright, who started as a freshman at TCU but played sparingly as a sophomore after the coaching change, will compete with freshman Kelly Neeb and redshirt freshman Alyse Scott to be the starting goalkeeper.

"It's wide-open," Wright said. "It's anyone's game. It's awesome because Alyse is one of my best buds. There are days when it gets hard, but we have such high respect for each other that we know whoever wins it, we are all going to be behind each other 100 percent. If I don't win the job, I'll be the No. 1 teammate."

Massey, from Kansas City, played in every game and started four as a freshman at Nebraska, but she never really felt comfortable.

"One of my biggest things was I didn't really fit in with the team at Nebraska," Massey said. "Here, it was like I fit right in. Everyone was so welcoming. It was great. It was like everyone was my best friend right away."

Massey is one of six forwards competing for three starting spots. Whether she starts or not, she expects to get considerable playing time. Regardless of what happens on the field, she says she made the right decision.

"I love it," Massey said. "It's been great. The girls are great. The coaches are great. The school is great. I'm so happy to be here. It's the best decision I could have made."

The two transfers join a program Hoppa has built into an SEC power. The Tigers won the SEC Tournament in 2011 and finished second last season. They have won seven West Division championships and have been to 12 NCAA Tournaments, including seven straight. Only a controversial late BYU goal kept them out of their first Sweet 16 last season.

Hoppa says her 15th Auburn team has the talent it takes to win, but it is also her youngest since her early Auburn years. She says development will be a key, and that starts today with two-a-day practices.

"We need to lay the foundation of how we want to play, a technical foundation," Hoppa said. "We really just kind of establish our program core values."

Junior Tori Ball is Auburn's leading returning scorer with 15 points last season.

The Tigers play Memphis in an exhibition match on Aug, 17 at the Auburn Soccer Complex. They open the regular season against Clemson at home on Aug. 23.


Phillip Marshall is a Senior Writer for Follow Marshall on Twitter:




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