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'Playing soccer in November is like playing basketball in March' - Auburn in NCAA Round 2
Kristen Dodson and Casie Ramsier form the second double-digit duo of goal scorers in Auburn single-season history.
Nov. 17, 2016

By Jeff Shearer

AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn soccer coach Karen Hoppa did not need any motivational speeches this week.

"Playing soccer in November is like playing basketball in March," Hoppa said. "It's added excitement. I can feel the energy in practice. The team is practicing at a higher level. We're excited. This is the time of year you want to be playing soccer."

After beating South Alabama 4-0 Saturday at home in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, No. 16 Auburn plays No. 13 Connecticut Friday at 2 p.m. in Gainesville, Fla.

"Really excited whenever you can advance in the NCAA Tournament, so we're looking forward to a good game on Friday against UConn," Hoppa said. "We were thrilled with how we played against South Alabama. I thought it was one of our best complete performances of the year on both sides of the ball. We need to build on that and be even better on Friday."

The Huskies feature the nation's leading goal scorer, Stephanie Rebeiro, with 16 goals this season.

"We'll definitely check up on them, but we're going to really focus on what we do and just taking care of the details and playing our best soccer," said senior Haley Gerken.

Auburn counters with double-digit goal scorers Casie Ramsier (12) and Kristen Dodson (11).

"Casie's doing a great job of finding open looks," said Hoppa. "I think a lot of her goals have come from really good quality assists. I think some of the shift in defenses has gone to Kristen now instead of Casie, and that's opened up Casie. We're fine with that. All of our front three we feel are really dangerous. We're just happy when anyone with Auburn on the back of their jersey finds the back of the net."

Against USA, Ramsier tied her program record by scoring in her fourth straight match. She's scored nine goals in Auburn's past seven games.

"A lot of it's my teammates helping me out, playing in some great balls," Ramsier said. "They've taken control when I couldn't get it done. I'm just happy to see them go in the net and do what I can to help the team."

Friday's winner will meet either No. 9 Florida or Wisconsin on Sunday at 1 p.m. in the Sweet 16. Auburn is 7-2 on the road this season, including a 3-0 win over the Gators, Florida's largest home SEC defeat ever.

"We are very good on the road," Hoppa said. "A lot of it has to do with our team and their ability to deal with adversity, and the team chemistry that they have when they spend a little more time together. They know we're going to face adversity on the road, so they really bond together and they embrace the challenges that being on the road brings."

"On the road, you've got to play tougher," Ramsier said. "You're not in your home-field advantage. You're not with your regular crowd, so I mean you're going to fight harder for each other and create your own environment. Create your own energy. On the road, being able to do that has been huge for us, and helped us get some victories on the road."

Jeff Shearer is a Senior Writer at Follow him on Twitter:



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