Aug. 23, 2006
AUBURN, Ala. -
Head Coach Karen Hoppa and her team will waste little time testing themselves in the 2006 soccer season as the Tigers welcome Texas to the Auburn Soccer Complex for a season-opening tilt set to kick off at 7 p.m. CT on Friday night.
"Texas is a great team for us to play in the non-conference," Hoppa said. "It is a great opponent for us to start with because we will get a good judge of where we are and what we need to do in the rest of the non-conference as we prepare for SEC play."
Friday night's match will be the first Division I soccer match for almost half of Auburn's roster as Hoppa and company signed 12 freshman to compliment their 13 returnees. The freshman class was previously ranked 17th in the nation by SoccerBuzz but the leadership of the upperclassmen may hold the key to the success of the season.
The Tigers are returning five seniors, including 2005 SEC Tournament MVP Ronda Brooks on the back line and 2005 SEC All-Tournament Team selection Kristin Stewart up top. The two of them combined to score 10 goals (six of which were game-winners) while posting a combined 25 points as the Tigers went 8-12-1 last season and advanced to the finals of the SEC Tournament. A key addition will come in the form of the return of senior midfielder Jac Schwarz, who missed all of last season after suffering a leg injury during the preseason. Schwarz enters her final season at Auburn sixth on AU's career assist list with 16 helpers.
Friday will mark the second straight season that AU and UT have faced each other during the opening weekend as the Tigers traveled to Austin, Texas, last year for the second game of the season, losing 2-0.
Auburn will return to the field 48 hours after the Texas match as the Tigers play host to Jacksonville State at 7 p.m. on Sunday night.
Auburn is 10-3 all-time in season-openers and had won six straight before falling to Rice, 2-1, in Houston to open up the 2005 campaign.
Friday night is Youth League Night at the AU Soccer Complex and the first 500 fans through the gate will receive an AU Rally Towel compliments of Verizon Wireless. On Sunday, the first 250 fans into the AU Soccer Complex will receive an Auburn soccer schedule magnet. Admission to all home regular-season contests is free.
The games can be heard locally on WZMG 910 AM or on the internet at www.auburntigers.com.