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    SEC Soccer Tournament Semifinal Recaps

    Photo courtesy of Todd Van Emst

    2012 SEC Soccer Tournament * Orange Beach, Ala.
    Friday, November 2, 2012
    Match 7 * Recap
    No. 6 Auburn 2, No. 2 Texas A&M 0

    By: Sean Cartell
    Twitter: @SEC_Sean
    SEC Digital Network

    ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – There’s something about the Southeastern Conference Soccer Tournament as far as Auburn is concerned.

    For the second consecutive season, the Tigers have earned an unexpected bid to the tournament’s championship match as a lower-seeded team. On Friday, it was sixth-seeded Auburn defeating second-seeded Texas A&M 2-0 at the Orange Beach SportsPlex. A year ago, it was the seventh-seeded Tigers that claimed the school’s first-ever SEC Tournament title.

    “It was awesome,” said Auburn’s junior midfielder Maddie Barnes, who scored her team’s first goal on Friday. “There is something about this time of year for our team; we really come together.”

    The Tigers (12-9-1) lost three of their first four conferences matches to begin the season before coming on strong to finish with a 7-6 record in league play and earn the sixth of 10 seeds to the annual league tournament.

    “This team, in particular, we were a young team and we lost a lot of talent from last year, but we got better as the season went on,” Auburn head coach Karen Hoppa said. “I think we’re playing our best soccer right now. To be in Orange Beach at such a beautiful complex, we really embrace it as a home-field environment for us. Our fans really turned out and made it that feel for us, so we just want to keep it rolling.”

    Auburn advances to the SEC Tournament Championship match for the fifth time in program history, joining the 1994, 2001, 2005 and 2011 teams. That is tied with Tennessee for the second-most appearances in league history behind Florida’s 13.

    “Last year was so special winning it for the first time in school history and being the first SEC West team to win it,” Hoppa said. “We never dreamed that we’d be back here again and get the opportunity to defend that title. We really had to try and make sure that the team focused one game at a time and now we’ve got a shot at it on Sunday.”

    The Tigers will face the winner of the Florida vs. Missouri match, which is currently being contested at the Orange Beach SportsPlex, in the title tilt.

    The Aggies controlled much of the match on Friday, holding a 19-6 advantage in shots, including a 10-3 edge in the second half.

    “Our defense, this week so far, has played phenomenal in both games,” Auburn goalkeeper Amy Howard said. “We forced them into a lot of bad shots and I made a couple of saves in the first half. Our defense played outstanding.”

    Barnes scored the first goal of the match in the 50th minute on a header off a cross from Tatiana Coleman to put the Tigers on the scoreboard.

    “Tatiana [Coleman] got in line and served it right to my head,” Barnes said. “I was wide open and it went in.”

    Coleman then scored a goal of her own in the 64th minute from 10-yards out to the far post.

    “We talked a lot from the Tennessee game [on Wednesday] to today about trying to get the ball behind the backs,” Hoppa said. “We felt like we were too impatient against Tennessee and shot from too far away from the goal. On both of them, we did a great job getting in line, getting the ball in the box. Maddie Barnes scored a great header and then, as soon as Texas A&M tried to press, we were able to counter just to perfection on the second goal and Tatiana [Coleman] just buried it.”

    Texas A&M, which is expected to earn an NCAA Tournament berth when the field is unveiled, drops to 17-4-1 on the year.

    “I’m disappointed,” Texas A&M head coach G. Guerrieri said. “We controlled 90 percent of the match and gave up two goals on the break. That’s sometimes what happens in a game, you have a team that is going to lay back. We hit the post a couple times, hit the goalkeeper [Amy Howard] a lot of times; the goalkeeper played great. The fight that Auburn put in, they should be proud of. That’s something that will go a long way. For us, now we get a couple days off to regroup and get ready for the NCAA Tournament.”

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    2012 SEC Soccer Tournament * Orange Beach, Ala.
    Friday, November 2, 2012
    Match 8 * Recap
    No. 1 Florida 3, No. 5 Missouri 0

    By: Sean Cartell
    Twitter: @SEC_Sean
    SEC Digital Network

    ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – Top-seeded Florida scored two first half goals in a 30-second span and rolled to a 3-0 win against fifth-seeded Missouri in the semifinals of the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Friday at the Orange Beach SportsPlex.

    “I think the first 15 minutes, we knew we had to sort of absorb some of Missouri’s pressure,” Florida head coach Becky Burleigh said. “They certainly brought it at the beginning of the game. Once we did that and were able to get in our rhythm of play, I thought we did sort of a good job of keeping the ball and picking them apart a little bit.”

    Florida (16-4-1) and sixth-seeded Auburn (13-9) will meet for the SEC Tournament Championship on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. CT in a match that will air live on ESPNU. It will mark the second consecutive year in which the two teams will vie for the tournament crown, as the Tigers captured a 3-2 victory in the title tilt last season.

    “Auburn is a very good team,” Burleigh said. “I’m excited to face them again because, obviously, it’s a re-match of last year’s final. Certainly, they did a terrific job against Texas A&M; we watched that whole game. They were great defensively and opportunistic in finishing their chances. They didn’t have that many chances, but the chances that they did have, they really finished. I expect it to be a battle.”

    The SEC regular-season champion Gators advance to their league-leading 14th all-time appearance in the tournament championship match. Florida has won nine SEC Tournament crowns, the last coming in 2010.

    Florida tallied two goals over a period of 30 seconds in the 19th minute to jump out to an early 2-0 lead. Erika Tymrack found Havana Solaun with a cross across the box and Solaun tapped it in for her sixth goal of the season. Half a minute later, Solaun returned the favor, getting the ball to Tymrak, who put it in the back of the net from 25 yards out over the keeper.

    “On the goal, Erika [Tymrak] basically did all the work,” Solaun said. “She got to the end line and then she crossed it across the six-yard box. Dri [Adriana Leon] made a run across and kind of dragged all of the defenders. I was just back post waiting for the tap in. A couple of seconds later, I got played down the flank and I heard Erika screaming and played it back to her. She just hit an awesome shot.”

    It marked the 14th time in UF school history that the Gators have scored a pair of goals in less than a minute’s time, and the first time since the 2006 SEC Tournament in Orange Beach.

    “Me and Havana [Solaun] have a lot of chemistry on and off the field, and it’s really easy to connect with her,” Tymrak said. “I was on the end line and Adriana [Leon] dragged all the defenders to the near post and Havana was wide open far. I played it to her and she hit it in. It was awesome and it calmed us down. On my goal, Havana was kind of end line too and we like to be a little patient in the box. She played it right to me and I saw a gap far post and I just hit it there.”

    Out of halftime, Florida extended its advantage to 3-0 in the 58th minute on a goal by Holly King, her fifth of the season, off a free kick.

    “When we pass the ball and we pass and move off the ball, it’s just really difficult for anybody to defend,” Burleigh said. “For us, we saw that all night. There was chance after chance because we were getting in behind and our movement off the ball was good. When we do that, we’re a pretty good team.”

    Missouri head coach Bryan Blitz was issued a red-card in the game’s 24th minute, watching the remainder of the game from the stands. The Tigers dropped to 14-7 on the season following the loss.

    “Florida is a great team,” Missouri associate head coach Todd Shulenberger said. “There’s a reason why they were the regular-season champions and they’re well coached. They create a handful for everybody. We gave our effort. In the second half, they scored on a free kick and we had some opportunities, they just didn’t go in. Hats off to Florida.”

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