In the exciting first-round games of the 2023 SEC Tournament, played on Sunday, October 29th at the Ashton Brosnaham Soccer Complex, the stage was set for intense soccer action. Two remarkable encounters unfolded, one featuring Auburn’s thrilling late 1st-half comeback, and the other showcasing Kentucky’s penalty kick (PK) victory. Let’s dive into the exhilarating details:
Auburn Triumphs Over Tennessee in a Late Surge In a scintillating showdown between Auburn and Tennessee, it was a pair of substitutes who stole the spotlight. Redshirt senior midfielder Becky Contreras and junior defender Haley Duca became the heroes of the hour. After Tennessee’s Kameron Simmons initiated the scoring with an unassisted goal in the 17th minute, Contreras answered with an equalizer 21 minutes later. Contreras’s goal came after a superb long clearance from Tigers senior goalkeeper Maddie Prohaska, allowing her to outpace the defense and head the ball into the net, despite Tennessee goalkeeper Ally Zazzara’s valiant effort. The climax came in the 41st minute when Duca, without any pressure, unleashed a stunning long-range shot that flew past a diving Zazzara and into the net, securing a 2-1 advantage for Auburn.
The second half witnessed an intense defensive battle as Auburn fended off seven shots and three corner kicks. Prohaska’s heroics in goal, making key saves in the 82nd and 85th minutes, ensured Auburn’s victory. Prior to the match, Tigers senior midfielder Anna Haddock received recognition as the SEC’s soccer Co-Scholar Athlete of the Year. With this victory, Auburn improved their overall season record to 8-6-5, setting up a highly anticipated clash against top-seeded Arkansas at 5 p.m. on Tuesday. Notably, Auburn had previously defeated the sixth-ranked Razorbacks with a 2-1 score on October 8th. On the other side, Tennessee’s valiant effort saw them fall to a season record of 8-6-4.
Kentucky Emerges Victorious in Penalty Kicks The opening match of the SEC Tournament featured a nail-biting contest between Kentucky and LSU, where neither team could find the back of the net during the regular 110 minutes of play. The deadlock was eventually broken in a thrilling penalty shootout, where the Wildcats prevailed 4-2 over the Tigers.
The hero of the PK shootout was Jordyn Rhodes, who delivered the decisive strike for Kentucky with a composed low shot to the left side of the net, leaving LSU goalkeeper Mollee Swift with no chance. While Rhodes sealed the deal, Kentucky’s graduate goalkeeper, Marz Josephson, was equally instrumental in their success. She made two crucial saves during the shootout, including a pivotal stop against Mollie Baker when her team was up 2-1, and another impressive save against Jordan Johnson.
Maddie Eastman further solidified Kentucky’s position by converting her penalty, and Rhodes’ shot secured their victory. With this win, Kentucky improved their season record to 9-3-6, earning a quarterfinal date with No. 2 Georgia at 12 p.m. on Tuesday. In their previous encounter during the regular season, the Bulldogs narrowly defeated the Wildcats 1-0 on October 19th.
Upcoming Matches on Tuesday The action doesn’t stop here, as the SEC Tournament promises more thrilling matchups on Tuesday:
- No. 2 Georgia vs. No. 7 Kentucky at 12 p.m.
- No. 3 South Carolina vs. No. 6 Texas A&M at 2:30 p.m.
- No. 1 Arkansas vs. No. 8 Auburn at 5 p.m.
- No. 4 Mississippi State at No. 5 Alabama at 7:30 p.m.
Stay tuned for more exciting soccer action in the 2023 SEC Tournament!