The fall semester is fast approaching and the schedule for Auburn Athletics begins. The soccer team kicks off the next sports-filled fall term with an exhibition game against Georgia Southern on August 8th.
The team enters this season with a chip on their shoulder after losing to in-state neighbor Samford in the first round of the NCAA Tournament. With that game in mind, this fall will be an effort to overcome that conclusion.
Head coach Karen Hoppa said, “Last season, we were all disappointed with how it ended. We had a great regular season. After a big step forward from the previous year, we upset the NCAA Tournament. I feel like I have an unfinished business.”
Auburn ended last season after beating the Bulldogs 2-1 earlier in the season with a 2-0 loss to Samford on November 12. The waiting time itself between that contest and the season is insane, and the loss comes to mind even more than that.
“It’s the first time that an up-and-coming junior has had to wait for spring before starting another season,” Hoppa said. “The long wait has haunted us in the depths of our hearts…I guess I see it as a sense of unfinished work.”
Hoppa’s team will bring back a large junior class that has played a large role throughout the club, but those juniors have played through COVID-19 and two unusual seasons. So this wait was the longest stretch they were waiting to play in their college careers.
Six of these juniors hold starting roles, and after Hoppa and staff have worked with a team full of underclassmen in recent years, they are laying the groundwork for what will eventually become the old roster. They play a key role in providing leadership to the incoming class of six freshmen.
The big name on Auburn’s offense is junior midfielder Anna Haddock, who scored a team-high nine goals in the 2021 season. The fourth brings an elite skill set that leads to some beautiful goals.
Behind Haddock in the back line is another junior, midfielder/forward Mallory Mooney. He will be a veteran alongside youngsters like LJ Knox and Karlie Thatcher.
In addition to the excitement the team has from within the program, their season opener could be a major factor in getting Fall Athletic off to a strong start. Both fans and players should be interested in how these first matches rock out.
“There’s something unique about being under the lights on a Thursday or Friday night. Going to a football game is one thing,” said the junior goalkeeper. said Maddie Prohaska of “You can’t be immersed in the actual game, but if you go to a soccer game, you are there and everyone in the stadium can hear you.”
Prohaska has scored three years in a row and actually coaches on the field. She had her 56 saves in all 20 games last year with a .700 save percentage.
The intimate environment she spoke of is what makes the Auburn Soccer Complex an on-campus venue where all fans can make a difference. Soccer is a sport where individual goals decide the outcome, and lively crowds steer the game in Auburn’s favor.
“I hope the Auburn community and Auburn students pick up where they left off at last year’s athletic meet. What did the audience do in men’s basketball, gymnastics, baseball, and especially the baseball postseason? I’ve seen ,” Hoppa said. “The potential for this team is endless and we want to bring those crowds into football because the home field advantage makes such a big difference.”
Auburn Soccer kicks off its home schedule on August 8 at 6:30 PM CST with an exhibition against Georgia Southern. That will be followed five days later in Memphis by another exhibition where he will be before the official season opener vs Old Dominion on August 18th.
“I think we’ve built a great foundation over the last few years. I think the possibilities for this team are truly limitless,” Hoppa said. “I can’t wait to see the Auburn family at the stadium on August 18th.”