Forward Treva Aycock remembers her first exhibition at Auburn.
Head coach Karen Hoppa certainly does, too.
Aycock scored two goals in her first shot at a first impression on the Plains last August during the preseason, and she went on to an All-SEC year, Hoppa points out — and that’s the kind of opportunity her team faces again today as the team hits the field for its first preseason exhibition of 2019.
Auburn soccer plays its opening exhibition at Kennesaw State tonight in Georgia, giving the Tigers their first chance this fall to mix and mesh in a game setting.
The Tigers will host a home exhibition against Mercer on Friday. The regular season opens Aug. 22 on the road.
“We are hyped for season right now,” Aycock said last Saturday at Auburn’s Fan Day event, as the team met fans at the autograph signing in a breakup of their preparation for the season and today’s exhibition.
“Everyone’s just ready to start playing and get out there,” she said.
It was last year in a preseason exhibition at Clemson that Aycock made her Tigers debut as a new transfer from Furman. She scored both of Auburn’s goals in that exhibition and ultimately earned second-team All-SEC honors as a standout for Auburn last season.
So even as the win or loss doesn’t count in this exhibition or the one Friday with Mercer, those preseason scrimmages can make a big difference for the team.
“It’s been massively helpful,” Hoppa said, of preseason tests like this one. “I think back to last year’s exhibition: We knew Treva Aycock, who transferred from Furman, was a good player. We didn’t know how good she was — until she scored two goals against Clemson.
“And then we were like, ‘Whew. She’s going to have a good year.’ And sure enough, All-SEC. So we’ll hopefully learn some more things like that these two games.”
Tonight’s exhibition is set for 6 p.m.
The Friday scrimmage at home is scheduled for 6:30 p.m., and it will offer fans their only chance to get a look at the team in Auburn until September.
Auburn opens the season at South Florida on Aug. 22 and will play at Florida Gulf Coast on Aug. 25 before meetings with Maryland and Virginia in a tournament at Georgia.
Auburn’s regular-season home opener is against Syracuse on Sept. 5.
“It’s so early right now and we do play the exhibitions early, so we’re still trying to figure them out,”
Hoppa said of her players. “We’re trying to find the right shape and the right combination of players — in particular the back line, which is going to be relatively new.
“But that’s the great thing about playing the exhibitions. We’ll play a couple different lineups and maybe a couple different formations as we try and figure out what’s the best fit for this group of players.”
Auburn enters the season after making its fifth straight run to the NCAA Tournament last fall.
“I’m hoping that we can find our team chemistry on the field, because we really haven’t played 11 v. 11,” junior defender Alyssa Malonson said. “So hopefully we can find ourselves as a team and hopefully score lots of goals.”
Hoppa enters her 21st season as Auburn’s head coach.
“It’s extremely important to show up for these exhibition games and figure out how we play, how we play with each other, figure out and get our groove into things,” Aycock said. “So it’s definitely important to figure out in the exhibition games just how we’re going to be.”