Hoppa's Tigers Win SEC Soccer Tournament

Coach Karen Hoppa's Auburn soccer team defeated the Florida Gators in the SEC Tournament title game.

Orange Beach, Ala.--Senior midfielder Katy Frierson scored a pair of goals and assisted on the other as Auburn took a 3-2 victory over Florida on Sunday to win the SEC Soccer Championship.

Frierson, a four-time All-SEC pick from Homewood, became Auburn's all-time points leader with her first goal on Sunday. Auburn's other goal came from junior Ana Cate.

It is the first overall league title for Coach Karen Hoppa's team since Auburn won the regular season title in 2002.

"Katy is one of the best players in the country and she took a leap of faith in coming to Auburn," Hoppa said about the senior. "She could have played for anyone in the country and so I'm just so pleased for her that on the biggest stage of her senior year she proves to be the best player in the conference. It's just very exciting and I'm really proud of her. The performance that she put forth today was incredible.

"I always say she is the epitome of a student-athlete," Hoppa added. "She is a straight-A student, gets it done in the classroom and gets it done on the field. She is obviously one of the best soccer players in the country. Just the way she represents Auburn in every facet of her life just makes us all proud.

"On the field, she makes everybody else around her better," Hoppa added. "Every day that she has been here at Auburn she has made our program better. She makes the players around her better and we are just really proud that she is an Auburn Tiger."

Frierson's first goal, a 14-yard shot, came on an assist from defender Heather Havron. The second goal put Auburn up 2-0 on a nine-yard shot with Tatiana Coleman getting the assist.

Florida cut the lead to 2-1 at halftime with a goal by Jo Dragota with less than three minutes in the first half. The Gators tied the game eight minutes into the second half on a goal by Annie Speese.

Auburn, which came into the tournament seeded seventh, improved its record to 14-6-2. The Tigers earned an NCAA Tournament berth with the victory.

Auburn took the lead for good with 26 minutes and 39 seconds left to play as Cate scored on the wing from eight yards out on assists by Frierson and Julie King.

The Tigers celebrate their tournament title.

"It's amazing and I couldn't be more happy for the girls," Hoppa said. "The effort they showed all week was just phenomenal. Our defending has kind of been our Achilles heel this season and we haven't been happy with it, but we finally clicked defensively. What a job they all did, especially Kim Spence, not being a veteran back for us.

"What an awesome feeling," said Hoppa, whose team won its first-ever conference tournament title. "I'm really proud to bring this trophy home to Auburn."

The seventh-seeded Tigers became the lowest seed and the first SEC West team to win the conference tournament.

Auburn players Frierson, King, Cate and goal keeper Amy Howard were selected for the all-tournament team.

Auburn opened the tournament with a 3-0 victory over LSU and followed that with a 2-0 victory over Tennessee.

Auburn will learn its NCAA Tournament draw on Monday. Frierson said she hopes the Tigers will be chosen as a regional tournament host.

"Hopefully, we will be at home for the first game, but this isn't the end of our season," Frierson said. "This is the beginning to the postseason in our minds so we're just really looking forward to getting some good matchups, good wins and keep playing with the heart that we have been."

Commenting on Auburn's victory over the Gators, Frierson said, "It was just an amazing game for us. We know that Florida is one of the best teams in the league. They are very dynamic and can score goals easily. We knew coming in that it was going to be a tough game.

"Our defense has been playing lights out these past few games and they kept that play going. Luckily we were able to get a couple of goals and we were able to counter them and get some turnovers. It was an unbelievable game. We were holding on for the last 10-15 minutes, just bunkering and defending. There's a lot of character in that and I think it's such a great win for this team."

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