AUBURN, Ala. - Another historic season for the Auburn soccer team came to an end Friday night as the Tigers (12-6-2) lost to Minnesota (12-8-2), 2-0, in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Auburn Soccer Complex.
The tournament appearance was Auburn's fifth straight and 16th overall under Hoppa, including its 12th in the last 13 seasons.
"We really came out well in the first half," head coach Karen Hoppa said. "We had the momentum and had our opportunities to go up early in the game, but we didn't capitalize. That was the difference in the game. Overall, I'm really proud of my team. We stayed with it and we kept fighting. Unfortunately we didn't get the result we wanted, but this team has a lot to be proud of."
Auburn outshot Minnesota, 10-9, in the contest, and each team put five shots on frame. However, all five of Auburn's shots on goal were saved, while two of Minnesota's found the back of the net.
After the two teams battled in a scoreless tie for the first 60 minutes of the contest, the Golden Gophers scored on a one-timer off a free kick.
Auburn nearly scored the equalizer minutes later as Treva Aycock fired off one of her three shots on frame, but Minnesota goalkeeper Maddie Nielsen made a diving save to her right to deflect the ball away.
The Golden Gophers doubled its lead in the 79th minute off a corner kick and held on for the final 11 minutes to advance to the second round.
"This senior class, what they've done for the program is phenomenal," Hoppa said. "To make four NCAAs, they've left this program better than they found it. When they look back on their career here, they can be very proud."
One of those seniors was goalkeeper Sarah Le Beau, who made her 87th career start in goal, tying her for the SEC record for career starts by a goalkeeper. Le Beau completed her career ranked in the top four in program history in shutouts, goals against average and saves.
"It's been an honor to play here," Le Beau said. "It's been an honor to play for coach. It's been an honor to wear this name across my jersey. Going into every game, every practice with the mindset to get better. Coach always says best effort, best attitude. For the past five years, I went into every day with the best effort, best attitude. I can't thank everyone enough for everything they've done for me here."
Playing alongside Le Beau for four years, Gianna Montini, Taylor Troutman and Ashton Brock completed their careers on The Plains with 53 career wins and four NCAA appearances, including the program's first trip to the Sweet 16 and Elite 8.
"I'm really thankful for this opportunity from day one," Montini added. "I'm a whole new person, and that's to due coach, the people around me and the support here. It's truly an Auburn family. This experience has been incredible, and I wouldn't change it for the world."