Sunday, October 24 2021

This post is a release from Auburn Athletics.

AUBURN, Ala. – Kylie Bechard and Sydney Richards scored two goals apiece as No. 11 Auburn continued its winning streak by defeating UAB, 4-1, Thursday night at the Auburn Soccer Complex.

This win marks the ninth straight for the Tigers dating back to last spring, trying the start of the 2018 season for the longest winning streak in program history.

“What’s most exciting is I don’t think we’ve played our best soccer yet, but we have a mentality,” head coach Karen Hoppa said. “It’s a fighting mentality. They work hard, they grind it out, they make things happen. They’re finding a way, and we know they can play better, so we’re really excited so far.”

“Honestly, just our perseverance throughout this whole thing and wanting to get better and better each game,” Richards said of what has led to the team’s nine straight wins. “Our team chemistry is really great. We’re a really diverse team and just want to work hard and do great until the end.”

Bechard and Richards each recorded a brace in the contest to account for all four Auburn goals. For Bechard, it was the first goal of her Auburn career after bouncing back from two knee injuries that forced her to miss the last two seasons.

“It was just great,” Bechard said. “It’s been a long road getting here. It’s been like two years since I’ve been able to play, but it was just an awesome feeling and honestly proud of myself after everything I’ve been through. Proud of my team, too.”

“So proud of her,” Hoppa said of Bechard. “She spent the first two years of college rehabbing knee injuries. To see her just get on the field the first game was a joy, and to see her contribute the way she did tonight, scoring two-goal, I’m really proud of her and really excited because it’s only the beginning for Kylie.”

Five Tigers pitched in with assists in the contest, including a pair from Mallory Mooney. Maddie Simpson, Grace Sklopan, Olivia Candelino, and Madeline Moore also got on the scoresheet with an assist, marking the first point in Sklopan’s Auburn career.

“It’s really good,” Richards said of the number of players who pitched in offensively. “We need a lot of people to be able to score and be able to come off the bench and make an impact. I really think that’s important.”

Auburn’s (4-0-0) chances started in the opening minute of the contest and continued throughout much of the first half, but it took until the 40th minute when Bechard got the Tigers on the scoreboard. Simpson laid a pass off to Mooney near the far sideline, and the sophomore defender played a ball across the front of the net, ultimately finding Bechard making a far post run and finishing into the back of the net.

The Tigers held a 1-0 lead coming out of halftime, but it didn’t take AUB (1-4-0) long to find the equalizer as Lizzie Hill did so 45 seconds into the second half. However, Auburn answer right back off the right foot of Richards only 16 seconds later. The goal was the first of the season for the junior forward, who split a pair of UAB defenders and fired a shot past the UAB goalkeeper into the far upper 90.

Ten minutes later, Richards recorded the second brace of her Auburn career as she found the net again. Played in by Candelino, Richards found her way through the Blazer defense and snuck a left-footed shot inside the far post to extend the advantage to 3-1.

Sep 2, 2021; Auburn, AL, USA; Sydney Richards (14) reacts after scoring a goal during the game between Auburn and UAB at Auburn Soccer Complex. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Shannon/AU Athletics

The Tigers’ fourth and final goal of the game, all coming in a span of fewer than 30 minutes, occurred when Bechard found space beyond the 18-yard box and hit a right-footed strike that deflected off a defender and found its way inside the near post.

Auburn’s four goals were the most this season, and the team’s multiple goals in four straight matches are the most since the start of the 2018 campaign.

The Tigers got a season-high 20 players into the contest, including 14 who played 30 or more minutes.

Auburn continues the homestand by welcoming Chattanooga (2-2-0) to the Auburn Soccer Complex Sunday at 1 p.m. CT.

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Source: Yahoo Sports

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