A month ago, the South Carolina Gamecocks outlasted Auburn for a 3-2 win in Columbia. In that game, the Tigers fell behind by three goals in the first 47 minutes on the back of crucial early mistakes. Auburn's defense held on for the rest of the game, but the offense couldn't quite generate the goals needed to turn the game on its head.
Tuesday night, the 5-seed Tigers got their revenge.
Auburn flipped the script this time around, building a lead on the 4-seed Gamecocks instead. The Tigers attempted just two shots in the first half, converting one from M.E. Craven a few minutes before halftime. Rocio Sanders and Anna Haddock earned the assists. On the other end, the Tigers played stellar defense, allowing zero goals on ten first-half shots from South Carolina.
In the second half, the Tigers turned up the offense. In the 63rd minute, Auburn bounced the ball across the field and dropped Carolina goalie Heather Hinz to the ground, allowing a wide-open Sydney Richards to double the lead. It was her seventh goal of the season.
From there, it was about keeping the Gamecock offense from getting back into the game. A penalty kick in the 71st minute cut the Auburn lead in half, but it was all the offense South Carolina would be able to muster for the night.
M.E. Craven acknowledged the Tigers' first goal didn't distract them. "There was still a lot to play for... 1-0 is not a safe lead in the SEC." She credited the defense keeping South Carolina off the board as a key to the victory.
The win also broke a long-standing streak of struggles for Auburn against the Gamecocks. The Tigers prevailed for the first time since 2012.
The win sends the Tigers to the semifinals of the SEC Soccer Tournament to face top-seeded Arkansas on Thursday at 5:00 p.m. The Razorbacks are currently ranked the No. 4 team in the country, and defeated Auburn 2-0 on the Plains on October 21st.