The Auburn soccer team entered last weekend’s set of matches at an even .500 on the season. After Labor Day, the Tigers still stand with the same win percentage, and a 3-3-0 record on the year after splitting matches on Friday and Sunday.
If these two matches were a microcosm of the highs and lows of the young season, Friday’s 2-0 victory over in-state rival Samford would be the match that proved what the Tigers are capable of at their best. Sunday’s loss against William & Mary, however, only showed more of the same struggles that haunted Auburn in the season’s other pair of losses.
The Tigers dropped Sunday’s match to William & Mary 2-0, first allowing the Tribe to score on a penalty kick in the game’s 29th minute. William & Mary extended their lead in the 57th minute and held Auburn scoreless for the remainder of the match.
“We just felt like we made a couple of dumb mistakes,” Auburn head soccer coach Karen Hoppa said after Sunday’s loss. “On the penalty, it was our own fault. We gave them that goal, and we didn’t play with enough urgency in the first half.
“In the second half we played much better, but we didn’t have that composure in front of the net that we needed.”
The game did mark the return of Bianca Sierra to the Tigers’ lineup, after the returning starter from a year ago missed the first weeks of the season while playing as a part of the Mexican National Team at the women’s FIFA U-20 World Cup.
Sierra made her 2012 debut in the match’s second half, relieving Tori Ball of her replacement duties at center-back and allowing Ball to move back up to her natural forward position.
“Tori has played great in every position that she’s played, and Bianca really is a player that always plays with urgency,” Hoppa said. “We felt like that was something that was missing in the first half, so we thought she would give us a little more urgency and allow Tori to go forward in our attack. I thought in the first half Tori was our best forward so she gave us that opportunity to push Tori closer to goal and we’re real happy to have her back on the field.”
Sierra was able to returned to the team after Mexico was eliminated from the U-20 World Cup late last week.
“She fit right back in,” Hoppa said. “It’s nice being a junior, and she’s played with most of the players. Not the freshmen, obviously — but we made sure she knew their names before she went in. She met most of them this morning. But I thought she fit right back into our back line very well.”
The Tigers are set for one more out-of-conference match before conference play begins the following week. Auburn hosts Texas Tech (6-1-0) at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Auburn Soccer Complex.
“We’ve got to finish our chances and we’ve got to stop making dumb mistakes in the back,” Hoppa said. “So we’re just going to go back to work this week in practice and try and get better for Saturday.”
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