You know how Auburn's 2013 football season ended—how the Tigers faltered in Baton Rouge, and then won nine straight games before falling just short of the ultimate prize. But, what about Auburn's 2013 soccer season? Is there anything from those Tigers' season that leaves them wanting more; that drives them to pursue greater things in 2014? Step back with me for a moment—to a time when our eyes were glued to ESPN, to see what we might've overlooked from a team that will be on the SEC Network at least 15 times in 2014.
October 20, 2013
Auburn and Missouri play two overtimes, but the game still ends in 1–1 tie. It is Auburn's third straight draw. Prior to that they lost four straight. The Tigers haven't won a game since September, and they're winless in conference. Auburn's prospects for making the 10-team SEC tournament field do not look good.
October 25, 2013
With a 1–1 halftime score against Arkansas, a fourth consecutive tie looks possible. That result would eliminate Auburn from post-season play. But in the second half Kala Faulkner heads in a corner, and Tori Ball scores on a breakaway after a steal. Tigers win 3–1.
October 27, 2013
Auburn scores early in the second half to take a 1–0 lead, but Vanderbilt ties it up with 17 minutes left in the game. Again, a possible tie looms. Again, not winning will mean no SEC tournament for the Tigers. If they don't beat the Commodores, the next game—the Iron Bowl of Soccer—will be strictly for pride.
When the Tigers have to have a goal, they get it—from Tori Ball. Tigers win 2–1. Their post-season hopes are still alive, but if Auburn wants to go to Orange Beach, they still have to beat the Tide—in Tuscaloosa.
October 31, 2013
The day has arrived. Instate superiority and the chance to play in the SEC tournament are on the line. Alabama holds a slim lead over Auburn in the conference standings. While the Tigers must win (and get some help) to keep their season alive, the Tide will advance with even a tie.
After 44 minutes, there's no score, but before the first half ends, Chelsea Gandy-Cromer scores her fourth goal of the season. Keeper Alicen Wright and the Tiger D push back the Tide another 45 minutes, and Auburn wins 1–0. The Tigers advance to the SEC tournament.
November 6, 2013
After beating Alabama, Auburn went to overtime against LSU in the first round of the SEC tournament. The Auburn Tigers prevailed with a penalty kick conversion by Bianca Sierra. Now the Tigers face Texas A&M in the SEC quarterfinals. Advancing to the semis won't be easy. The Aggies are 14–4–1.
Texas A&M scores early, and the Tigers play them close, but lose 1–0. The Aggies will go on to win the SEC tournament. The Tigers' season is over. Auburn's streak of advancing to the NCAA regionals ends at seven consecutive seasons.
When Auburn's 2013 looked like a lost cause, the Tigers came together and won four straight games. Still, they fell short of the standard set for the program by head coach Karen Hoppa. Now they face the challenge of returning to the NCAA tournament.
The Tigers have plenty of talent and experience. They return leading scorers Casie Ramsier and Tori Ball. Defenders Kala Faulkner, Haley Gerken and Kiana Clarke all started every game of 2013. They'll play in front of Alicen Wright, who won the goalkeeper job last year in midseason.
Samantha Solaru and Brooke Ramsier are back at midfield, as well as senior Ashley Kotero, who missed most of 2013 with an injury.
The Tigers open 2014 with an expedition game this Saturday against Georgia in Athens. The first home game will be August 29 against UC Irvine. It will be Auburn's first appearance—and first win—on the SEC Network!
Josh Dowdy is a College & Mag contributor and the author of Orange Is Our Color: The Tuberville Years through Navy-tinted Glasses.