ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - Freshman midfielder Mallory Mooney scored the golden goal in the opening seconds of double overtime as Auburn defeated Georgia 2-1 in the second round of the SEC Soccer Tournament Sunday night.
Mooney one-timed a cross from Alyssa Malonson into the back of the net just 14 seconds into the second overtime period. The goal was the first of the career for Mooney and sent Auburn to the SEC Tournament quarterfinals for the first time since 2016.
"All season we've been talking about making the far-post run, the near-post run," Mooney said. "I saw Alyssa running down the sideline. She dribbled right past the girl. I knew this was my chance to make the far-post run and I made it. Just an easy, tap-in goal for the win."
Malonson received a pass from Hailey Whitaker at the top left corner of the 18-yard box and beat her defender around the left edge before making the cross in front of frame to Mooney. The senior midfielder was all over the attacking third of the field and matched a career high with two assists in the contest.
"It feels amazing," Malonson said. "We've been waiting for a moment like this the whole time we've been at Auburn, and I'm so excited to move on and be able to stay at the beach for another couple of days."
"I'm really proud of the girls," head coach Karen Hoppa added. "I thought we did a good job growing into the game. I thought we were better in the second half than we were in the first half. We obviously created a lot of opportunities and finally got one right at the beginning of the second overtime."
Auburn struck early as Sydney Richards found the back of the net off a cross from Malonson in the ninth minute to give the Tigers the 1-0 lead. It marked Richards' team-high third goal of the season.
However, Georgia answered back in the 26th minute as Abby Boyan struck one from the top of the box that squeezed through the hands of freshman goalkeeper Maddie Prohaska, who made a diving attempt on the shot.
Auburn stayed aggressive throughout until the game-winner eventually found the back of the net. The Tigers took 11 shots in the first half and ultimately totaled 19 shots in the contest, marking the second-highest output of the season. Anna Haddock led the way with a season-high six shots while Malonson and Richards added three shots apiece.
"We fought through the whole game," Mooney said. "It was a hard match. Georgia is a really good team. We played them already once this season and got the win, and it's always hard to beat the same team twice. We knew we had to come out and fight, put everything on the line."
While the Tigers battled for the game-winner for the final 64 minutes of regulation and 10 minutes of double overtime, Prohaska and the Auburn back line held Georgia scoreless for the remainder of the contest.
"I thought all three back were outstanding," Hoppa said. "They did a great job. Georgia is a very dangerous attack, and I thought our defenders were outstanding, Maddie Prohaska as well. Only giving up one goal in tournament time is really good, and I'm proud of our defensive effort tonight."
The Tigers advance to take on top-seeded Arkansas (7-1-0) at 6 p.m. ET on SEC Network.
"We're excited about the opportunity," Hoppa said. "They're the best team in the league and that's what you play for in tournament, is to earn that opportunity to play the best."