Tigers to Meet Utah State in NCAA Tournament

Auburn will be a first-round host for the NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament.

Auburn, Ala.--SEC Tournament champion Auburn will play Utah State in the opening round of the NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament. The Tigers and Aggies will meet at 7 p.m. on Saturday in Auburn to open play in the 64-team tournament.

ITAT TV: Auburn Talks NCAA Selection

Coach Karen Hoppa's Tigers are the third seed in their regional with a 14-6-2 record. Utah State, winner of the Western Athletic Conference Tournament, is not seeded. The Aggies have a 15-4-2 record.

"We are real excited to be playing at home on Saturday night," Hoppa said. "We hope to get a good crowd. Anyone that is not in Athens, Ga., for the Auburn-Georgia football game, we hope they will come out at 7 o'clock on Saturday."

Karen Hoppa

The Tigers, who are 14-6-2 overall, are coming off a 3-2 victory on Sunday in Orange Beach, Ala., where they won their first-ever SEC Tournament title. Auburn's last SEC soccer title was in 2002 when Coach Karen Hoppa's team won the SEC regular season.

The Auburn-Utah State winner will face the winner of the Maryland (10-5-4) vs. La Salle (15-1-3) match in the second round.

The other games in Auburn's part of the draw are No. 2 seed Oklahoma State (19-1-2) vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff (16-4-1) in Stillwater, Okla., and Illinois (16-4-2) will be at home vs. Notre Dame (10-7-3).

The four winners will advance to a regional for the second and third rounds, which will be played Nov. 18th and 20th.

The Tigers are 2-2 all-time in NCAA Tournament games played in Auburn and 4-9 in all NCAA games.

All-SEC senior Katy Frierson scored a pair of goals and assisted on another in the championship game. Auburn opened the tournament with a 3-0 victory over LSU and followed that with a 2-0 victory over Tennessee.

Katy Frierson

"Our senior night we had the mindset that it wasn't going to be our last (home) game," Frierson said. "We had to take care of business in the (SEC) tournament and luckily we do get to host a team. It is going to be so exciting to play one last time here in front of friends and family and the Auburn community."

Commenting on the SEC Tournament title the four-time All-SEC player said, "That gave us a lot of momentum going into the NCAA Tournament. We know that we can compete and play against the best teams in the country. We have a national seed this year, which is exciting. We get to host a game. It's a really exciting time for us and we hope to make a deep run into the tournament."

Stanford, the nation's top ranked team, is the No. 1 seed in Auburn's bracket with Oklahoma State the No. 2 seed and Boston College the fourth seed.

Tickets for the Utah State at Auburn game are $10 each for general admission. College students with a valid ID and youth tickets are $3.

Junior keeper Amy Howard, who posted two shutouts in the SEC Tournament, said she is looking forward to the NCAA Tournament. "Our goals this year, and always, it to get into the NCAA Tournament, but to win this past weekend and to play some of our best soccer give us such momentum going into the NCAA Tournament and builds our confidence."

Howard added, "I am so excited. We have such good chemistry when we play under the lights at our place. It is going to be an awesome feeling."

Auburn is one of eight SEC teams to make the 64-team NCAA Tournament field. The ACC has nine teams in the tournament.

Julie King scores for the Tigers in Auburn's SEC Tournament semi-finals round victory over Tennessee.

"For eight teams to make it shows how powerful the SEC is as a league," said Auburn senior defender Julie King, a two-time All-SEC selection.

"I think it's great preparation for us for the NCAA Tournament to be able to play against those teams this season and know that eight of them are in the NCAA Tournament," King said.

King said she is excited the Tigers will open NCAA play at home. "That's awesome. We love playing at home and our (home) record shows it (8-1-1). We are really excited for Saturday. It's back to the drawing board this week and hopefully we can get the win."

Hoppa agreed with King that the SEC is strong this season. "The conference is the best it has ever been," the coach said. "Eight teams is the most we have ever gotten into a single NCAA Tournament. The last highest was six (2009). It's the best year we have ever had and it does speak volumes to what our team is capable of."

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