AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn soccer heads to Starkville to open the SEC season against Mississippi State Friday, Sept. 15 at 6:30 p.m. CT at the MSU Soccer Field.
“Mississippi State is a strong team led by an obviously great coach,” Tigers head coach Karen Hoppa said. “Last year, they had the best season in their program’s history, and we expect them to build on that this year. It’s going to be a tough test for sure. They’re a talented club. They’ve really built a great home environment these past few years, so we’re going to have to have our best soccer.”
The match will be available to stream on SEC Network+. Brock Turnipseed and Anthony Craven will have the call.
Auburn heads into the match at 4-2-2 following a 0-1-1 week on the road at West Virginia and Ohio State. In Morgantown, the Tigers fell behind out of the break but fought their way back to even in the 66th minute thanks to a goal from junior Carly Thatcher that was created by seniors Sammie Brown and Sydney Richards. The match ended in a 1-1 draw. At Ohio State, the Buckeyes jumped ahead with a pair of early goals that Auburn could not match. The Tigers created eight chances and held the opposition quiet for the final 67 minutes of the game, but it was not enough to avoid the 2-0 loss.
Entering Friday, Mississippi State boasts a 5-1-2 record, which includes a 4-1 mark at home. Last week, the Bulldogs went 1-0-1, tying South Alabama 1-1 in Mobile and defeating Louisiana Monroe 1-0 in Starkville. Mississippi State is led by head coach James Armstrong, a former assistant of Hoppa. Armstrong served on the staff at Auburn from 2013-18.
Traditionally, the Tigers have dominated the series against the Bulldogs as they hold the 19-5-3 all-time lead. The series is more tightly contested in Starkville, however, as Auburn holds the narrow 7-5-1 advantage. The Orange & Blue have only dropped one contest versus Mississippi State since 2012, but fans should expect a competitive match as five of the last six have been decided by a goal or less.
Last year, both squads met on The Plains for what appeared to be shaping up to a scoreless draw, however, Auburn struck with less than 10 minutes remaining in the match on dynamic goal from Thatcher. Thatcher found service from Richards and Olivia Candelino to put the Bulldogs away for good.
Auburn returns 14 total players who have prior experience playing Mississippi State, including five who have a goal or an assist in their career versus MSU. Richards has contributed to a scoring play each of the last three times the teams have met.
Starting goalkeeper Maddie Prohaska has also found an abundance of success in her 290 career minutes of work against the Bulldogs. Prohaska has surrendered just one goal in the time frame, saving 13 total shots for an impressive .923 save percentage alongside a 2-0-1 record.
Next weekend, Auburn welcomes Missouri to the Auburn Soccer Complex for its SEC home opener Thursday, Sept. 21 at 6:30 p.m. CT. The first 250 fans in attendance will receive a complimentary “Battle of the Tigers” rally towel.