Casie Ramsier (above) is an All-SEC performer for the Tigers.
Auburn, Ala.--One of 16 teams to receive a seed for the 64-team 2016 NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament, the Auburn Tigers will open the event with a noon home match on Saturday vs. South Alabama.
“We are thrilled to be playing at home,” said Auburn coach Karen Hoppa, whose team has a 14-6 record after finishing second in the SEC regular season. The Tigers will be trying to bounce back from a 3-1 loss to Arkansas in the semi-finals of the league tournament.
South Alabama has a 15-5-1 record after winning its fourth consecutive Sun Belt Conference Tournament title. The Jaguars suffered one of their losses to Auburn, dropping a 1-0 match in double overtime to the Tigers in a game played on August 21st at Mobile.
“We know it is a really tough first round draw,” ?Hoppa said of the Jaguars. “I think it is about as tough as you can get in the first round.”
The winner of Saturday’s match will advance to the round of 32 in Gainesville, Fla., to face either UConn or Albany. SEC Tournament champion Florida is the No. 1 seed in Auburn's region and is a team the Tigers defeated 3-0 in Gainesville this season.
“We know it is one game at a time, we won’t even look past Saturday at noon,” Hoppa said.
The Tigers made a run into the Sweet 16 round of last year’s tournament and return many key players from that team. “Experience always helps you,” Hoppa said. “These guys have been there and they know what it takes. They know the feeling. They know the butterflies.
“They will be more prepared for this year’s NCAA Tournament than they were last year and we need to draw on that experience, for sure,” added the coach who has led the Tigers to 14 NCAA Tournament appearances.
Auburn’s leading scorer, senior Casie Ramsier, said she is pleased that she will have one more home game in her college career. “We are hoping for a big crowd to get that home field advantage,” she said. The match start time was set at noon to give fans an opportunity to see soccer and then watch the football Tigers on TV at 2:30 p.m. when they play at Georgia.
Commenting on the previous matchup vs. South Alabama, Ramsier said, “It was a tough game for sure. They are a great team. Nothing is going to come easy in that game.”
Tickets for the South Alabama at Auburn match are $8 general admission, $3 for for kids and students with AU Ignited Cards can get in free.
Hoppa said there are two major keys for the Tigers to win and advance.
“We have to be on point defensively because South Alabama is dangerous every time they get on attack so our defense is going to have to be really tight and keep the game in front of them,” the coach noted.
“Offensively, we have got to play our game, our possession style, and keep the ball for long periods of time and create attacks off our possessions.”