AUBURN, AL (WBRC) - The following is from the Auburn University Athletics Department:
With two shutout wins under its belt and its 2015 home opener on the horizon, the Auburn soccer team has a chance to start 3-0-0 for the first time since 2006. Also a first since 2006? The No. 16 ranking by the National Soccer Coaches Athletic Association pinned on the Tigers heading into Friday's match with in-state rival UAB, which is its highest ranking since the Tigers were No. 13 in the nation.
The Tigers and Blazers kick off Friday at 7 p.m. at the AU Soccer Complex.
"Home openers are always huge," Auburn head coach Karen Hoppa said. "You want to establish yourself. To be a successful team and reach the goals that we want to reach, we have to win at home. The opening game sets that tone."
There's a little bit of weight riding on Friday's match, but after grinding out 1-0 victories last week at UC-Irvine and Long Beach State, Auburn head coach Karen Hoppa thinks her veteran squad knows how to win and can handle whatever is thrown at them.
"Our returning players this season know how to grind out a win," Hoppa said. "When you're on a tough field in a tough environment all the way across the country like that, they just knew what it took to grind out some tough victories. We're really excited about the veterans in this group."
Much of that can be credited to Auburn's back line consisting of senior captains Kala Faulkner and Haley Gerken, but also to the solid play of redshirt freshman keeper Sarah Le Beau. Le Beau made a combined nine saves over the weekend in her first collegiate starts en route to being named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week.
"It was a great start to Sarah's career," Hoppa said. She just played like a veteran, even though she's a freshman. She was communicating, organizing and coming up big when we needed her. We're really excited to see where she goes from here.
Friday's match with UAB can be see live on SEC Network+ on Watch ESPN's digital platform. Fans that cannot attend the match, but would still like to view it can do so by accessing their Watch ESPN app or visiting WatchESPN.com and filling in their cable provider information to log-in.
Both Friday and Sunday's match with Furman will be broadcast on SEC Network+ with Andy Burcham and Mac Matthews on the call.
Fans can also listen to both matches on WEGL 91.1 FM locally in Auburn or online on AuburnTigers.com for free. Live stats will be provided on AuburnTigers.com as well.
For more information on Auburn soccer, visit AuburnTigers.com, follow the team on Twitter, @AuburnSoccer or follow them on Facebook at Facebook.com/AuburnSoccer.
QUOTES FROM HEAD COACH KAREN HOPPA
"The defense as a whole was outstanding last week. That's what this team is going to be built on. Obviously, we had great play from Sarah (Le Beau) in goal, but our back line including Kala Faulkner, Kiana Clarke, Hannah Alspach, Samantha Solaru and Sophie Simantel, they all played outstanding and were the keys to our victories."
"We feel good about the depth and the quality of the depth. We have some quality returners coming off the bench. Sophie Simantel, is a senior, she was a big player for us off the bench on Sunday (against Long Beach State). She played at defender for both games and on Sunday, she was one of our MVP's. Having that type of experience for us on the bench is unbelievable."
"It's felt like we've been on the road for a long time. After Kennesaw during the preseason week and then turning around last week and going to California, we've been away from Auburn for a long time, so it's nice to get back home. We're excited about the energy on campus and be able to play in front of the home fans. We need a really big crowd. It's one of the things our team is focused on and we're really hoping to have the Auburn family out there."
SOCCER LOOKS TO REMAIN UNDEFEATED WITH HOME-OPENING WEEKEND VS. UAB AND FURMAN
›› Auburn opens its home schedule Friday night when it welcomes in-state rival UAB to the AU Soccer Complex at 7 p.m. The Tigers and Blazers haven't faced each other since 2008, which ended in a 1-0 victory for Auburn. The Tigers will return to the field on Sunday to face Furman at 1 p.m., a team that Auburn played in Greenville last season and came out on the winning end, 2-1, after a two-goal first half.
ORANGE AND BLUE LOOKS FOR FIRST 3-0-0 START SINCE 2006
›› A win Friday against UAB would mark a 3-0-0 start for the Tigers for the first time since 2006. Auburn has started the season 2-0-1 a couple of times after 2006, but a bonafide three-game winning streak to open a season has not happened in eight years.
AUBURN BACK IN NATIONAL RANKINGS AT NO. 16 IN NSCAA POLL; HIGHEST SINCE 2006
›› Another first since the 2006 season happened this week as well as the first national polls since preseason were released and Auburn found itself No. 16 in the nation after opening with wins at UC-Irvine and Long Beach State. Auburn's highest ranking ever (No. 9) occurred back in 2004.
SARAH LE BEAU EARNS FIRST SEC DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK AWARD
›› With two 1-0 shutouts to open the 2015 season, redshirt freshman goalkeeper Sarah Le Beau was honored by the Southeastern Conference today for her performance as she was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Week. Le Beau made nine saves overall on the weekend with eight coming on Sunday at Long Beach State, the third-most in a game by an Auburn keeper in the last four seasons.
SERIES HISTORY ›› UAB
Series Record 5-4-0
At Auburn 3-2-0
At UAB 2-2-0
At Neutral Sites Never met
Most AU goals 3 x3, (Last AU, 3-1, 2004)
Most UAB goals 3 (UAB, 3-2 OT, 1996)
Combined goals 5 (UAB, 3-2 OT, 1996)
Current streak AU - W5
AUBURN AND THE C-USA
›› Auburn holds a 11-6-0 all-time record against teams from Conference USA.
›› The Tigers haven't faced UAB since 2008, but have the most amount of contests than any other team in CUSA.
›› Auburn's last match against a CUSA opponent came in 2013 when Southern Miss visited Auburn and the Tigers came away the 6-0 victors.
›› UAB won't be the only CUSA opponent for the Tigers this year as Old Dominion ventures to The Plains next weekend for a Sunday match on Sept. 6
HOPPA REACHES 250 CAREER WINS WITH 1-0 DOUBLE OVERTIME VICTORY OVER LBSU
›› With Auburn's win on Sunday at Long Beach State, head coach Karen Hoppa recorded her 250th career win as a head coach, combining her 64 wins at UCF and her now 186 wins at Auburn.
›› Hoppa now joins 36 other Division I head coaches with 250 wins and three other head coaches in the SEC (Becky Burleigh, Florida, 437; G Guerreri Texas A&M, 396; Bryan Blitz, Missouri, 253).