No. 23 Auburn shuts out Florida, wins third straight

AUBURN, Ala. – No. 23 Auburn soccer turned in its third straight shutout win with a 2-0 victory against Florida Sunday afternoon at the Auburn Soccer Complex.

In front of a national audience on ESPNU, the Tigers improved to 11-3-0 overall and 5-2-0 in SEC play as all five of the team’s league wins have been shutouts.

“They’re all important this time of year,” head coach Karen Hoppa said of the win. “Florida is a good team. They have a lot of talent. I’m really proud of our effort. Our defensive effort was outstanding. We only gave up two shots on the day while creating a ton of opportunities.”

Auburn tallied 25 shots on the day and put two in the back of the net in the second half courtesy of Marissa Arias and Sydney Richards. Anna Haddock had a hand in both goals with a pair of assists and Mallory Mooney chipped in with an assist on the first.

On the other side of the ball, center backs M.E. Craven and Alyssa Malonson continued to lead the defensive effort in the team’s seventh shutout of the season, including the league-best fifth in SEC play. The Tigers allowed just two shots in the contest and have surrendered just six shots on goal in the last three.

“Our center backs have just been phenomenal,” Hoppa said. “They really do an outstanding job cleaning up everything that gets behind the team. It also speaks to our offensive ability to control the game.”

Auburn came out aggressive from the opening kick but was unable to finish any of the 15 first-half chances. However, it didn’t take long for the team to get on the scoreboard coming out of halftime as Arias scored in the 52nd minute.

“It felt nice,” Arias said of her goal. “I’m just trying to take advantage of every opportunity that I get. That’s what strikers are supposed to do when the ball is placed in front of them. You just have to lace it in and finish it.”

The San Antonio, Texas, native found space between two defenders and fired with her right foot from just outside of the 18-yard box, beating the goalkeeper near post. The goal was Arias’ seventh of the season, all coming in the last nine games, and her fifth in SEC play. She remains tied for the league lead in goals in conference games.

“Marissa, what can you say about her?” Hoppa added. “She’s scoring goals like crazy. I’m really proud of her.”

Florida fought for the equalizer for a stretch of 20 minutes, but the Tigers continued to control the majority of the possession before Richards doubled the advantage as she rebounded a saved shot with her left foot inside the far post in the 72nd minute.

“Honestly, I was just there at the right time, which was great,” Richards said. “It was important because they could’ve tied it back up at any time, so it was a good one to get.”

Haddock created the chance as she beat her defender around the left side and put a shot on goal, and Richards was there to clean it up after the goalkeeper blocked Haddock’s initial attempt. The goal was Richards’ fifth of the season and her third in the last give contests.

Auburn’s 25 shots and 11 shots on goal were the second most in a game this season, including the most in SEC play. The team put eight of its 10 second-half attempts on frame. Haddock and Maddie Simpson led the way with four shots apiece while Richards, Arias and Olivia Candelino each added three.

Eighteen Tigers ultimately saw action in the contest, while four played all 90 minutes.

Auburn caps off its home SEC slate with a SEC West showdown against No. 6 Arkansas (12-2-0, 7-0-0 SEC) Thursday, Oct. 21 at 6:30 p.m. CT.

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