By Jeff Shearer
AUBURN, Ala. - Asked to list her soccer strengths, Kristen Dodson does not mention the speed, accuracy and creativity that helped her break Auburn’s season scoring record. Instead, Dodson’s self-scouting report focuses on intangibles.
“I think my effort. I think my work ethic,” said Dodson, who scored 38 points last season. “I try to put everything I can into every game. You don’t have to be the best soccer player in the world to put your best foot forward.”
Dodson’s best foot has been especially productive lately. In a five-game span, Kristen scored five goals, including the only goal in Auburn’s 1-0 win over No. 10 Florida, a victory that helped Dodson earn national player of the week honors.
“She was dominant,” Auburn coach Karen Hoppa said. “You would watch those two games, Alabama and Florida, and she was a dominant player. We’re obviously thrilled for her, to have stepped up her game. She’s exciting to watch.”
Tasked with leading Auburn’s attack in the absence of graduated stalwarts Casie and Brooke Ramsier, Dodson delivered.
“Kristen has had a tremendous career but her junior year was spectacular, setting the record in points and leading us to the Elite Eight,” Hoppa said. “To be able to get better from that is really hard, and I feel Kristen has done that. I feel she’s better than she was last year.”
“It’s awesome to be a part of the class,” Dodson said. “I think we’ve grown closer, not just as a team but in our class, every year. Trying to continue to work together and push to that one step further is really our goal.”
“These seniors are a special group,” Hoppa said. “The neat thing about them is they’ve gotten better every year. First year, made the second round of NCAAs, second year, Sweet 16, and the third year Elite Eight.
“They’ve played massive roles in two of the best seasons in program history. They’re a really special group, on the field. Off the field, I think I’m most proud about how much they’ve grown up. That’s always a fun part of being a college coach and they come in as these teenage kids, and they leave here as these 20-somethings adults, and these guys have grown so much. They’re all on course to graduate this year. They’re all graduating on time, and Caroline’s obviously going to finish her master’s this year.”
After Sunday’s Senior Night match, the Tigers conclude the regular season Thursday at Vanderbilt before heading to Orange Beach for the SEC Tournament. For Dodson, talk of a postseason run, perhaps duplicating or exceeding last season’s march to the NCAA quarterfinals, can wait.
“What helped us get so far last year is that we thought one game at a time,” Dodson said. “We didn’t overshoot it.”
— Jeff Shearer (@jeff_shearer) October 18, 2017
Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at AuburnTigers.com. Follow him on Twitter: Follow @jeff_shearer