Senior goalkeeper Amy Howard made a season-high 10 saves and junior defender Bianca Sierra scored a pair of goals off of free kicks as the Auburn soccer team survived to defeat Texas Tech, 2-1, on Saturday night at the Auburn Soccer Complex. The win improved Auburn’s record to 4-3-0 as it heads into the Southeastern Conference portion of its schedule. Texas Tech fell to 5-2-0.
“Anytime you get double-digit saves in a game is phenomenal, it just doesn’t happen that often,” Auburn Head Coach Karen Hoppa said. “Amy came up big and some of them were big-time saves, not just catching the easy ones. That is a game we need and the kind of performance we need from a senior goalkeeper if we are going to have success in conference play.”
Howard faced 16 shots and stopped all but one of the 11 Texas Tech put on frame. Her saves were of every variety as she made stops on long-range shots, point-blank shots and everything in between, racking up the second-highest total by a SEC goalkeeper this season and the most by an Auburn goalkeeper since she stopped 12 against North Carolina as a freshman in 2009.
“Texas Tech was an awesome team. We worked hard all week, had our best week of practice yet and it really showed in the game,” Howard said.
With Howard standing on her head, and getting a few assists from the crossbar and the post, Sierra provided all of the Auburn offense with her two first-half goals. After playing for the Mexican National Team in the FIFA U-20 World Cup and missing the first five matches of the season, she made her first start of the season and drilled in the only two shots she took.
Sierra’s first goal came in the 12th minute from 25 yards out and her second in the 30th minute came from almost an identical spot with almost an identical trajectory and result, beating Texas Tech goalkeeper Victoria Esson to the opposite post.
“It was fantastic finishing by Bianca,” Hoppa said. “Coach (Amy) Berbary had Bianca work on some free kicks yesterday in practice and obviously it paid off. She hit them terrific. I am really pleased with the team effort. They really laid it on the line tonight. I am really proud of them.”
Texas Tech narrowed the gap to a goal, 2-1, in the 43rd minute on Jessica Disabella’s unassisted goal. The team then ripped off 10 second-half shots, six of them on frame, but could not get another past Howard.
Auburn opens SEC play on Friday at 7pm against Missouri at the Auburn University Soccer Complex.
Follow Auburn Soccer on twitter @AU_Soccer.