Nov. 15, 2012
PROVO, Utah -
The Auburn soccer team's defense endured an offensive onslaught from the No. 2 BYU offense but never surrendered a goal in the run of play. Unfortunately for Auburn, the winning tally came with just 44 seconds left in regulation when BYU converted on a penalty kick following an Auburn foul on the side line of the penalty box as Auburn fell, 1-0. The loss ended Auburn's season with a 13-11-1 record and a sixth appearance in the NCAA Tournament Second Round.
"First of all I want to congratulate BYU, they are a heck of a team and they played a great game tonight," Auburn Head Coach Karen Hoppa said. "I thought our effort from our team was tremendous. It was a very unfortunate way to end a great soccer game."
BYU (20-1-1), the top-ranked team in Auburn's bracket and the highest-ranked team Auburn has ever played in a NCAA Tournament match, ripped off 17 shots while holding Auburn to just five. Of BYU's 17 shots, 10 went on frame, forcing Auburn goalkeeper Amy Howard into nine saves, one off her season high.
With BYU controlling the run of play, Auburn relied heavily on its backs and Howard, who came up with multiple big saves to keep Auburn in the match. Howard's first huge save came 12 minutes in as the senior keeper leapt to her left to stop a Rachel Manning shot after the ball had been headed around by both teams inside the 18 to keep it scoreless.
"The front four from BYU is some of the best players of the country," Hoppa said. "All year our backs have gotten better and better. Our goalkeeper (Amy Howard) was tremendous. Amy came up huge with a couple of big saves in the first half and then was very steady in the second half.
"BYU put up more pressure in the second half than in the first but I thought we held really strong not to give up a goal in the run of play. Against a team like that you have to credit our defensive unit," Hoppa said.
"This is the best environment I have ever played in; there were so many fans and BYU is a great team," Howard said. "They asked us for one thing before the game. They asked us to fight like we never have and that's what we did. It was unfortunate, the goal that late, but we never stopped."
With the game seemingly headed to overtime, Bianca Sierra was whistled for a foul that set up the BYU penalty kick. BYU senior forward Carlee Payne Holmoe converted the kick for her seventh goal of the year and what would be the game-winner
"I told (Bianca) after the match that we are not even here without you. The game is not zero-zero without you so she can't hang her head. It is really just an unlucky play. She certainly wasn't trying to foul. She is a tremendous player and we are excited to have her back next year on our backline," Hoppa said.
Howard finished her career with 387 career saves, which is second all-time in Southeastern Conference history.
The shutout was the 12th of the season by BYU, which has surrendered just 11 goals all season.
The game was the 13th one-goal game of the season for Auburn, which went 6-7-0 in one-goal matches this year.
BYU advances into the Sweet 16, where it will face Marquette.
Follow Auburn Soccer on twitter @AU_Soccer.