The Auburn Tigers (12-5-2, 4-5-1 SEC) welcome Big Ten Champion the Minnesota Golden Gophers (11-8-2, 5-5-1 Big Ten) in the first round of the NCAA Tournament this Friday at 3PM CT.
Auburn comes into the tournament after losing to Florida in the first round of the SEC Tournament on penalty kicks 2-1. It was a tough loss that was hard to swallow as Auburn had more shots than Florida (25 to 15) and played a player up on Florida after Sarah Troccoli was ejected after a red card in the 57'.
Auburn is 13-15 overall in the postseason, but since 2011, has spotted a 9-6 record. Auburn is 6-2 all-time at home including winning the last four tournament games on The Plains. Auburn has outscored opponents 30-10 in home games this season.
Bri Folds was named to the First Team All-SEC. Folds recorded nine goals on the season and seven assists while having a team high six game winning goals. Treva Aycock (seven goals, six assists) and Alyssa Malonson (eight assist - team high) each earned Second Team All-SEC honors.
Auburn has turned in nine shutouts this season, 4th in program history, behind senior Sarah Le Beau's textbook season. She looks to continue that trend in what may be her final game at home in her career. Le Beau has 69 saves and a save percentage of .767 entering her 95th start in goal.
It will be Auburn's high-powered offense, however, that will determine if the Tigers can continue their first round success. Auburn was 5th in the SEC in shots (328), 2nd in goals per game (2.21) and 1st in points per game (6.84) showing a offense that shoots often and sets up shots.
But they will play one of the better defenses in the Big Ten in Minnesota.
Minnesota is coming off their run in the Big Ten Tournament where the Gophers did not allow a goal in three games. Minnesota blanked No. 21 Rutgers 1-0, defeated Nebraska 2-0 and won the war of attrition against No. 15 Penn State in penalty kicks 5-4 to win the Big Ten Tournament.
Senior April Bockin was named Offensive Player of the Tournament as she scored all three goals for the Gophers. Bockin has scored in six of the last ten matches with three of the games being multi-goal games. Bockin has been the standout player for Minnesota this season.
Bockin leads the Big Ten in total shots (75, 13 shots ahead of second place) and total goals (13, 3 goals ahead of second place). Senior Molly Fiedler sets up Bockin. Fiedler is tied 1st in the Big Ten in assists with eight on the season, which earned her the honor of being named to the Third Team All-Big Ten.
Sophomore goalkeeper Maddie Nielsen was named Defensive Player of the Tournament as she collected 10 saves and three shutouts to anchor the resilient Gophers defense. Nielsen was tied for the Big Ten lead in season shutouts, recording eight, and was 7th in the Big Ten in total saves with 63.
Minnesota has never won a game on the road in the postseason, going 0-8 all-time. The last time Minnesota reached the tournament, they bowed out early to NC State in penalty kicks in 2016. This is the fourth time in the last seven years the Gophers have made the tournament.
Friday marks just the third meeting all-time and first postseason meeting between Minnesota and Auburn. The Tigers won the most recent meeting on September 7, 2014 after a two-goal second half led them to a 3-1 win.
The broadcast can be heard LIVE on WEGL 91.1 FM locally or online anywhere at weglfm.com starting with the pregame show at 2:45 CT. You can hear pregame analysis and a interview with coach Karen Hoppa before the Auburn takes the field against Minnesota.