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No. 11 Auburn bounces back with shutout vs. Aggies

30 days ago
Auburn Athletics
Photo: Auburn Athletics

AUBURN, Ala. - No. 11 Auburn bounced back from a tough loss Thursday to defeat Texas A&M, 3-0, Sunday afternoon at the Auburn Soccer Complex.

The win was Auburn's sixth in seven home contests this season with the lone loss coming by one goal to the No. 1 team in the country.

"I'm really pleased with our bounce-back performance," head coach Karen Hoppa said. "Today, we rebounded and we played much better soccer. It was a fair result against a really good Texas A&M team. They're defending co-champions, and I thought our team was outstanding."

Auburn (8-2-0, 2-1-0 SEC) held a Texas A&M (5-5-1, 1-2-0 SEC) team that ranked top-30 in the country in points without a shot on goal in the contest. Meanwhile, the team's three goals were two more than any other team scored against the Aggies this season.

"You see the score line, but to really think about the defense - zero shots on goal against a really dangerous Texas A&M team. It was an excellent performance," Hoppa added.

All of Auburn's goals came off set pieces as M.E. Craven scored on a free kick from the defending half of midfield while both Sydney Richards and Anna Haddock converted penalty kicks.

"I was just trying to get it in so someone could flick or head it," Craven said. "It took a really good bounce for us and caught the keeper a little off guard."

Craven's goal was her second of the season, both of which have proven to be game winners. Meanwhile, the senior captain also played a key role in the Tigers' defensive effort that resulted in the team's fourth shutout in the last six games.

"Our mindset was to cover for each other because there are always going to be mistakes on the back line," Craven added. "We just really backed each other up."

"Communication was definitely key. We were talking a lot more than last game," Malonson added of the defensive effort. "It's definitely different play center back. I've played a few games here and there so I'm getting used to it. It's been good so far."

Craven started the scoring in the contest as she served the free kick from beyond midfield, nearly 70 yards from the goal, and the ball bounded over the Texas A&M goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

Twelve minutes later, Carly Thatcher split a pair of Aggie defenders and drew a foul inside the box to set up the first penalty kick. Richards stepped to the spot and put the attempt into the back of the net as the Texas A&M goalkeeper dove the opposite direction. The goal was Richards' third of the season.

Leading 2-0 at halftime, the Auburn defense continued to hold strong while the offense stayed on attack in the second half, ultimately outshooting Texas A&M 11-6 in the contest. Nearly half of the Tigers' attempts were on frame.

Texas native Sydnie Thibodaux drew the penalty kick that ultimately resulted in the team's third and final goal of the game. Haddock stepped up and buried the kick past the goalkeeper, marking her team-high eighth goal of the season.

Nineteen players ultimately saw action in the contest, including four freshman who played important minutes in SEC play. Five Texas natives played pivotal roles in the contest.

"It's a great feeling," Hannah Waesch said of the win. "Obviously, Texas A&M is a great program and they have been for many years. I have many teammates that I played club with on that team, so getting a win is super exciting for me."

The Tigers go back on the road to take on No. 19 South Carolina (8-2-0, 3-0-0 SEC) Friday, Oct. 1 at 6 p.m. CT in Columbia, S.C.