AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn soccer earned its first win of the 2023 campaign thanks to a 5-0 rout of Troy Sunday at the Auburn Soccer Complex.
Fifth-year forward Sydney Richards scored a pair of goals in minutes 51 and 56 to solidify the third brace of her collegiate career.
"This meant a lot," Richards said. "We've been trying to play this way for a while. We went through a bit of a scoring drought, so it was nice to get a lot of different goals from different people tonight. This gives us great momentum that we can build on moving forward."
Offensively, the Tigers outshot the Trojans 17-2 and stuck nine of their chances on target. Auburn's attack also created five corners, two more than its opponent.
The offense found a rhythm in the second half as three of its five goals and 13 of the 17 shots came in the final 45 minutes.
The dominant win marked the first time the Orange & Blue have netted at least five in match since beating Southern Miss 9-0 on Aug. 21, 2022.
Auburn's defense also put on a show and allowed just one shot on-goal throughout the match. The back line has only conceded the one on-frame chance through first 180 minutes of the season.
Goalkeepers Maddie Prohaska and Maddie Lo split duties in net, each taking half credit for the clean sheet.
"Tonight was great in all phases of our game," head coach Karen Hoppa said. "It's what we've needed for a long time. This team has the potential to be really dangerous with some confidence under its belt."
Senior Anna Haddock ignited the offensive onslaught in the 15th minute. After intercepting a pass from a Trojan defender, Haddock ripped off a left-footed missile from 35 yards outside the right corner of the 18 that bent past the opposing goalkeeper and tucked inside left post. The goal was the sixth game-winner of Haddock's career.
Thanks to dazzling defensive efforts to open the season, Prohaska had yet to be threatened.
However, in the 20th minute Trojans forward Dolce Villaflor took a chance with a strike from the penalty arc aimed at the left upper 90, but Prohaska was two steps ahead. The captain goalkeeper made a leaping, left-handed save to snuff out Troy's only true offensive opportunity on the night.
In the final seconds of the first half, the Tigers doubled their lead thanks to goal No. 1 in the career of senior Maddy Bondon. Sophomore Hayden Colson initiated the play from the right flank, delivering a cross diagonally across the box to senior Maddie Simpson. Simpson headed the ball to Bondon who was waiting to deliver the one-touch, right-footed knock into the center of the net.
Coming out of halftime, Auburn's surge was immediately apparent as Richards capitalized less than six minutes after taking the field. The goal-scoring play began with a throw in from Colson to senior Olivia Candelino who chipped across the net to find Richards waiting at left post for a left-footed sliding shot past the defense and into the net.
Colson picked up her second assist of the game on the play.
"It was amazing to see all the things we've worked so hard on in practice be executed," Colson said. "Tonight was a team effort. I had teammates set me up to be able to create those assists and then I had teammates on the other end that were able to finish them for the goals."
Less than five minutes later, in minute 56, Richards struck again for the brace.
Senior Mallory Mooney delivered service via a corner kick to junior LJ Knox who headed the ball to Richards' right foot for a one-touch shot into the lower left corner of the goal. Two of Richards' three career braces have come versus Troy.
Auburn's fifth and final blow came in minute 75. Out wide near the right corner of the 18 was redshirt-freshman Dylan Driver who flicked the ball to Haddock at the arc. Haddock took a shot that ricocheted off the crossbar and fell at the feet of redshirt-senior Marissa Arias who used a left-footed strike to put the ball away inside left post.
Haddock picked up the 25th assist of her Tiger career on the play, good for sixth all-time in school history.
Auburn's next tests will come in the form of a pair of road matches at Syracuse (Aug. 24) and at Army West Point (Aug. 27). Kickoff for the Syracuse match is set for 2 p.m. CT on ACCNX.