No. 23 Auburn takes on South Carolina to start SEC Tournament

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – No. 23 Auburn (11-5-1, 5-4-1 SEC) begins its 21st straight appearance in the SEC Tournament against South Carolina (11-5-1, 6-3-1 SEC) Tuesday in Orange Beach, Alabama.
Kickoff at the Orange Beach Sportsplex is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. CT on SEC Network.
“We start over now at the SEC Tournament at 0-0, and it’s a new season for us,” head coach Karen Hoppa. “There’s no easy draw in this league, but South Carolina is an excellent team.
“We obviously are biased being in the conference, but we feel like the SEC Soccer Tournament is the premiere conference tournament in the country,” Hoppa added. “It’s just a tremendous atmosphere, it’s a great location and, as I mentioned earlier, the competition makes it one of the best tournaments in the country. Every game is exciting. Every game is close. Anybody can beat anybody down here.”

Auburn punched its ticket to the SEC Tournament for the 26th time in program history, including the 21st straight season, which is tied for the longest active streak in the league.
The Tigers are 14-22-5 all-time at the SEC Tournament, including 12-17-4 under head coach Karen Hoppa and 10-15-4 since the tournament moved to Orange Beach in 2003.
Auburn and South Carolina met on one other occasion in the SEC Tournament with the Tigers advancing on penalty kicks, 5-3, in 2015.
With a win, Auburn would advance to its first SEC Tournament semifinal since 2016.
Fifth-year defender Alyssa Malonson was named the SEC Defender of the Year and First Team All-SEC, becoming Auburn’s fourth Player of the Year in program history and its first since Julie King was also named the Defender of the Year in 2011.
Sophomore Anna Haddock joined Malonson as a First Team All-SEC honoree and was the only sophomore to earn the distinction, while redshirt sophomore Marissa Arias tied for the league lead in conference goals and earned second-team accolades.
It marks the first time since 2017 Auburn has had multiple First Team All-SEC performers.
Haddock and Arias along with Sydney Richards have accounted for 22 of the team’s 34 goals this season (65 percent), including 14 of the last 16. 
Auburn’s defense turned in five shutouts in SEC play, good for the most in the league. The Tigers turned in three straight shutouts from Oct. 1-17.

As previously mentioned, Malonson was named the SEC Defender of the Year and First Team All-SEC Sunday and became Auburn’s fourth Player of the Year honoree in program history and the first since 2011.
The Spring, Texas native has started 94 straight games in her Auburn career and is the program record holder in games played, games started and consecutive games started.
Malonson also ranks tied for eighth in program history with 23 career assists.

South Carolina enters the SEC Tournament as the No. 4 seed with an overall record of 11-5-1 and conference record of 6-3-1.
The Gamecocks are on a two-game win streak after defeating Alabama and Florida by a combined score of 6-1 to finish the regular season.
On the offensive side, Catherine Barry leads the team with six goals and 14 points, while Ryan Gareis leads the team with eight assists and is tied with Barry with 14 points. Barry has scored four goals in South Carolina’s last seven matches.
On the other end, Heather Hinz has started all 17 games and has played all but 19 minutes in net. She has posted a 1.00 goals against average and has had a major hand in five shutouts.   

Tuesday’s action begins at noon CT with four quarterfinal contests scheduled to be played 30 minutes apart.
All games are broadcast on SEC Network and will be played at the Orange Beach Sportsplex, which has been home to the SEC Soccer Tournament since 2003.
Tickets for the tournament are sold on site and are $5 for adults and $2 for children 12 and under.

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