Auburn Picks Up First Round NCAA Win Over Belmont, 2-0

Nov. 14, 2008

Courtesy Auburn Athletics

AUBURN, Ala. - Auburn got back to its winning ways on Friday evening, knocking off Belmont, 2-0, to advance to the second round of the 2008 NCAA Women's Soccer Tournament for the first time since the 2004 season.

Kara Kasten and Jenni Prescott each scored goals for Auburn, which will be trying to exact revenge on Florida State for an early season loss in Sunday's second round.

"Coming out hard and getting an early goal was key because it forced Belmont to come out and play a little bit more and get a few more numbers forward," Auburn Head Coach Karen Hoppa said. "That helped stretch the game to give us a little more space to be more possessive and play the style that we wanted to play."

First Team All-SEC goalkeeper Allison Whitworth was forced into making just one save on the evening, but it was a big one and it set the tone early for what turned into a huge win for Auburn. Just over four minutes in, Belmont's Erica Carter was able to split the defenders and pull Whitworth off her line, forcing the senior to make a sliding save, but it was all Auburn from there as Belmont was able to muster just four shots in the match, two in each half.

Kasten recorded what ultimately turned into the game-winning-goal in the 23rd minute when she took a feed from Rebecca Howell into the 18 and slotted a shot to the near post for a 1-0 lead. The goal was the seventh of the season for Kasten and the 15th of her career, moving her into a three-way tie for eighth in the Auburn record books for career goals. The assist was the 20th of Howell's career and 12th of the season while Gabi Rivera got the second assist on the goal, her ninth of the season.

"With a team like Belmont, they have kept everyone of their games between one or two goals. We knew we had to take advantage of a fast start," Kasten said.

SEC Freshman of the Year Katy Frierson had a chance to give Auburn a two-goal cushion in the 30th minute when her shot from the top of the 18 sent Belmont (13-7-3) keeper Sari Lin diving to her right, but Lin was able to make the save, one of nine on the evening for her.

Coming out of the break, Auburn (12-8-2) again kept mounting its pressure earning five corners in the half and taking 12 shots. Mary Nicholson's header following a Frierson corner forced another save by the laterally moving Lin but Auburn was finally able to go up 2-0 when Prescott collected her third goal of the season in the 70th minute.

Stephanie Fransoso started the run up the near touch line for Auburn and advanced the ball almost to the goal line before sending a low cross toward the box. Kasten was able to tip the ball just enough to avoid the feet of a Belmont defender and find the uncovered Prescott for the juniors' seventh career goal.

Frierson again narrowly missed netting a goal in the 71st minute when she hit the crossbar and Caitlin King, seeing her first action since Sept. 26 at Kentucky, also was just off with a header that Lin was able to snatch out of the air in the 78th minute.

"The girls played a great game. It is fantastic to get the first NCAA win for all of these players," Hoppa said. "All of these players did what they needed to do to win the game. They scored a couple of goals and got really good possession and played really good soccer. I know they are excited to be down to the final 32 teams in the country."

Auburn's appearance in the second round is the program's fourth all-time, having reached it in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Two of those seasons ('02, and '03) it was eliminated by Sunday's opponent, Florida State, and each by a 2-1 count.

Florida State, the No. 2 seed in the region, advanced to the second round with a 7-0 win over Mississippi Valley State.

The two teams will face off at 2pm on Sunday with the winner advancing to next weekend's Sweet 16.

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