AUBURN - The Auburn soccer team waited until the latest possible minute to tie its game with Alabama and then won it just over three minutes into overtime, cementing an outright SEC Western Division championship and career win No. 200 for head coach Karen Hoppa.
"I have been doing this a long time to get to win No. 200 tonight and there are not many games that choke me up to tears when the game is over and this one did," Hoppa said. "It had everything; an unbelievable crowd, the hugest stakes and we had a last-second goal and an overtime win on a golden goal. It was unbelievable."
Playing from behind since the 12th minute, Julie King headed in a Katy Frierson free kick with just 17 seconds left to tie the game at 1-1 and force the extra period, Auburn's sixth overtime match of the season and its fourth in the last five games.
"We were fighting the whole 90 minutes," Frierson said. "We had several chances but we just couldn't put it on frame. Then on the free kick I just served it in to Julie and she went up and out-jumped the keeper and put the ball in the back of the net for us."
Frierson again unleashed her magic once the match got to overtime, slotting a pass to Ana Cate at the top of the 18. Cate needed just one step to beat the Alabama defender and then slid a shot into the back corner of the net at the 93:47 mark, setting off a wild celebration for Auburn's seventh SEC West title under Hoppa's direction and a 10th consecutive trip to the SEC Tournament.
"We knew the whole game that that was our opening, right down the middle," Cate said. "Katy played a great ball. I beat the first person and I just saw the goal. I didn't even look at the goalie I just hit it as hard as I could."
For Hoppa, she becomes jus the 51st Division I women's soccer coach to reach 200 wins and only the 10th female head coach.
The win also moved Auburn into fifth in the SEC standings, setting up a rematch with Georgia in the first round of the SEC Tournament on Wednesday at 7:30pm CT in Orange Beach.
Facing a win-or-stay-home scenario, Auburn (11-6-2, 5-4-2 SEC) unleashed 19 shots on Alabama before King headed in the game-tying goal.
"This was a very emotional game for us. There was a lot at stake coming in and we knew we had to win and if we didn't our season was over," Frierson said. "We just believed in one another and kept going forward and luckily it worked out for us."
The team then needed just one shot in overtime before Cate's game-winner, the first of her career.
Alabama (8-8-2, 3-6-2 SEC) took a 1-0 lead after just 12 minutes had rolled off the clock as Victoria Frederick scored an unassisted goal from the top of the 18. That goal came just minutes after Rosaly Petriello missed on a penalty kick following an Auburn handball in the box, hitting the post.
Frierson's two assists give her 12 for the season, tied for the third-most in a single season, and also gave her 71 career points, making her just the fifth player in Auburn history to crack the 70-point barrier.