Box Score | Quotes | Frierson Feature
By: Sean Cartell
SEC Digital Network
WATCH SEC SOCCER TOURNAMENT HIGHLIGHT REEL
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (Nov. 6, 2011) – The final 10 seconds may well have lasted an eternity for Ana Cate.
Auburn’s junior midfielder scored the game-winning goal in the 64th minute Sunday to lead the seventh-seeded Tigers to a 3-2 win against fourth-seeded and 23rd-ranked Florida for the program’s first-ever Southeastern Conference Tournament Championship at the Orange Beach SportsPlex.
“It’s awesome,” Cate said. “This is what you dream of; that feeling of scoring the goal and waiting for those last 10 seconds to tick off the clock; they’re the longest seconds of your life.”
The Tigers (14-6-2) became the first seven seed in the history of the event to claim the SEC Tournament Championship. The previous lowest seed to win the league tournament crown was sixth-seeded Tennessee in 2008. Auburn also became the first-ever school from the SEC Western Division to capture the SEC Soccer Tournament.
“It’s amazing and I couldn’t be more happy for the girls,” Auburn’s 13th-year head coach Karen Hoppa said. “The effort they showed all week was just phenomenal. Our defending has kind of been our Achilles heel this season and we haven’t been happy with it, but we finally clicked defensively. What a great job they all did, especially Kim Spence, not being a veteran back for us. What an awesome feeling; I’m really proud to bring this trophy home to Auburn.”
Senior midfielder Katy Frierson, the tournament’s Most Valuable Player, did it all on Sunday, scoring her team’s first two goals and assisting on the game-winner in a full 90 minutes of play. Frierson became Auburn’s all-time career points leader in the match, finishing the day with 102 career points. She is the first player in school history to eclipse the 100-point plateau for her career and sits just outside the SEC’s all-time top-10 scoring list.
“It was just an amazing game for us,” Frierson said. “We know that Florida is one of the best teams in the league. They are very dynamic and can score goals easily. We knew coming in that it was going to be a tough game; our defense has been playing lights out these past few games and they kept that play going. Luckily we were able to get a couple of goals and we were able to counter them and get some turnovers. It was an unbelievable game. We were holding on for the last 10-15 minutes, just bunkering and defending. There’s a lot of character in that and I think it’s such a great win for this team.”
Auburn got on the scoreboard in the 12th minute of the game when Frierson took a rebound off a free kick by Heather Havron and launched a shot down the middle to put the Tigers ahead 1-0.
“The first goal was off a free kick and Heather [Havron] served a great ball in and Julie [King] went up and challenged it,” Frierson said. “Defenses have to be aware of Julie, so there were several players around her and it just popped out to me and I just hit it right on frame.”
Frierson struck back in the 30th minute when she redirected a kick from freshman forward Tatiana Coleman and found the back of the net.
The Gators, who have won a league-leading nine SEC Tournament titles in their history, answered with a goal by junior midfielder Holly King with 2:38 remaining in the first half. King finished a free kick from Jo Dragotta to score the goal, which sent Florida into the locker room at intermission down 2-1.
Florida, which held an impressive 18-9 advantage in shots for the game, knotted the score at 2-2 when freshman forward Jillian Graff knocked home her second goal of the season off a cross by Annie Speese in the 54th minute.
Cate broke the tie in the 64th minute off a touch from Frierson to Julie King, who found Cate on a cross for what ended up being the game-winner.
“Katy chipped like she has been doing all year,” Cate said. “She played an awesome ball to Julie down the right side and she picked me out. It was really easy for me; she did the hard part, I just had to tap it in.”
Florida (16-7), which entered the tournament having lost three of its last four regular-season matches, had gained some momentum in wins against Georgia and Alabama in the SEC Tournament, but head coach Becky Burleigh said the team’s physicality in the championship match wasn’t consistent with what had been successful earlier in the week.
“I am disappointed because in the first two games of the tournament, I thought we brought a really great physical presence defensively and, I think in this game, we were not able to match that,” Burleigh said. “Ultimately, I think we lost this game in the first half by not bringing the physical presence that we displayed in the first two games.”
Auburn earns the league’s automatic bid to the upcoming NCAA Tournament. The field will be announced at 4:30 p.m. ET on Monday on NCAA.com.
“We put forth a lot of effort, so the key is for us to take a few days and recover,” Hoppa said. “We’ll enjoy this and recover, but know that our work isn’t done. Hopefully this tournament will give us momentum going into the NCAAs.”
2011 SEC Soccer All‐Tournament Team
Tori Bailey, Tennessee
Chelsea Hatcher, Tennessee
Molly Atherton, Alabama
Justine Bernier, Alabama
Jo Dragotta, Florida
Holly King, Florida
Kat Williamson, Florida
Ana Cate, Auburn
Amy Howard, Auburn
Julie King, Auburn
Katy Frierson, Auburn**MVP
2011 SEC Women’s Soccer Tournament Atttendance
Session 1 (Games 1 & 2): 1054
Session 2 (Games 3 & 4): 1054
Session 3 (Games 5 & 6): 1275
Session 4 (Games 7): 1444
AVG. PER SESSION: 1207
AVG. PER GAME: 690