Defense the Key for Tigers In NCAA Round Two

Coach Karen Hoppa and senior Katy Frierson talk about the keys to success for Auburn in the second round of the NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament.

Stillwater, Okla.--With a chance to make Auburn history, Coach Karen Hoppa's team will take on Maryland at 2:30 p.m. CST on Friday with the winner advancing to the Sweet 16 round of the 64-team NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament.

"We are really excited about the game," Hoppa said. "It has been a long-time program goal to get to that round of 16. We have never been so to have that opportunity on Friday to do something no Auburn team has ever done really excites and motivates this team."

The Tigers, the SEC Tournament champion, improved their record to 15-6-2 with a 2-1 victory over Utah State on Saturday night in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Maryland advanced to Friday's game with a 5-1 rout of La Salle to improve its record to 11-5-4.

"They are a good team and they are going to be a lot like we are, frankly, a good quality team that could beat anybody on any given day," Hoppa said.

"I think our defending is going to be a key for us in this match, much like it was in the SEC Tournament," Hoppa said. "Maryland has a very potent offense and even the kids off their bench are going to be some of the best attackers we have ever seen so our team defending is going to be critical.

"Offensively, we are going to need a big game from Katy (Frierson) and a big game from Julie (King). Tatiana (Coleman) has been back really playing at full force so hopefully we will get a big game out of her as well. I think those are going to be keys for us offensively."

Frierson is Auburn's all-time leader in points and a four-time All-SEC selection. She was named the Most Valuable Player at the SEC Tournament.

"Maryland is very dynamic," Frierson said. "They can score goals with ease so we are going to have to really concentrate on defense. That has been our theme for the last couple of weeks.

"In order for us to be successful we have got challenge them and make the game uncomfortable for them and hopefully from that our defending will lead to goals," Frierson added. "When we are up a goal it is easier to defend so hopefully that will happen."

Hoppa said she felt good for "the most part" about the way the Tigers defended vs. Utah State. "I wasn't pleased about the goal we gave up, but I think our defending was good," she said.

"In the SEC Tournament our defending was the best it has been all season and I think we continued that vs. Utah State," Hoppa pointed out. "I think we only gave up two shots on goal the whole game so you do that and you have got a really good chance to win the game."

The Auburn coach said she liked how the Tigers dominated possession of the ball vs. Utah State, but said she would like to see more goal production as a result of that happening. "I thought we had some chances that we normally score on," she said. "We had the opportunity to put the game out of reach and we didn't. That is something that we can't do this weekend."

If the Tigers defeat Maryland they will play the winner of Friday night's Illinois at Oklahoma State match.

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