Auburn Claims First-Ever SEC Title
With 0-0 Tie With Alabama
November 1, 2002
AUBURN- Auburn Soccer head coach Karen Richter's birthday could not get much better, as the Auburn Tigers tied, 0-0, with the Alabama Crimson Tide Friday night to clinch the regular season SEC Championship. The title is the first for the program that, just three seasons ago, was last in the conference.
"This tie was bittersweet, but like Niki (Schier) said, 'who cares'," head coach Karen Richter said in winning the SEC title. "We really wanted to come out here and claim the title to ourselves instead of sharing with someone and we got that. Our motto all week was 'Just say no to co-'.
"It is amazing. We never thought we would get to this point so quick. The administration has been so supportive of everything we have needed and the crowd tonight was great to come out and get behind us like they did."
The match was dominated by superb keeping on both sides of the field. Alabama's Laura Lowman and Auburn's Megan Rivera both made game saving stops in each half.
In the first half, the Tigers made several attempts to put points on the board. Seeming to be her trademark, Sarah Steinmann was able to make many runs down the leftside of Alabama's defense. Faking and feinting, Steinmann penetrated to the endline and would send balls through the box, looking for an attacking Auburn player. Auburn, however, wasn't able to capitalize as the team took nine shots, throughout the half, without putting one in the net.
In the second half, Alabama began to mount an attack on the Auburn goal. With fluid passing, the Alabama attack was able to move the ball down the field and get their first real shot on goal. Deep in the Auburn half, an Alabama forward was able to make a through pass to a waiting teammate in the box. The teammate ripped a shot to the far post, only to have Rivera make a diving save on the line.
Near the end of the second half, Auburn came back to try and snatch a win. On the Tigers best chance of scoring in the second half, Jenn Walters tried an opportunity towards the goal that was blocked by the Alabama defense. The ensuing scramble put the ball at Steinmann's feet. Taking the shot, the Alabama defense stepped again to block the shot and clear it up field.
In overtime, both teams played very physical and were unable to maintain much possession. As the horn sounded to end the second overtime and the game in a 0-0 tie, only one shot had been registered, from Auburn.
The 0-0 tie with Alabama marked the final time that seniors Theresa Campioli and Niki Schier will play at the Auburn University Soccer Complex, unless the Tigers earn a bid to host the first and second rounds of the NCAA tournament. The duo were honored before the start of the game for their accomplishments in their four years, including helping the Tigers go from 12th in the SEC their freshman year to 1st in 2002.
"What a great way to end," Schier said. "This is amazing. We would have loved to have won the game, but this is great. I don't think it has sunk in yet."
Auburn will now travel to Oxford, Miss. for the start of the SEC Tournament on Nov. 7 at 5:00 p.m. The Tigers opponent will be determined on Sunday after the LSU-Arkansas match, which will be shown live on FOX Sports South. If Arkansas defeats LSU, the Lady Razorbacks will play Auburn in the first round. If LSU wins, Georgia will be the No. 8 seed and face Auburn in the first round.