Marissa Arias admitted it wasn’t easy.
It was hard to keep perfect focus as the minutes piled up Sunday, going 90 minutes and beyond in the sweltering heat in a frustrating scoreless tie going into overtime.
But Arias was still ready for the golden moment.
Arias blasted the golden goal into the back of the net in the 93rd minute, cleaning up an attack bouncing off M.E. Craven, Alyssa Malonson and the LSU keeper, and the Auburn soccer team defeated LSU 1-0 on Saturday on the sophomore’s game-winner at the Auburn Soccer Complex.
“It’s just finishing the little things,” Arias said after her strike, and the celebration that followed. “It pops out — you’ve got to put them away.”
Auburn moved to 10-3 on the season and 4-2 in SEC play.
Auburn keeper Maddie Prohaska and the Auburn defense recorded their second straight shutout win.
“I’m really proud of how we gutted that win out,” Auburn head coach Karen Hoppa said. “It was hot and everybody was tired. You could see both teams were dragging.
“I’m really proud of the way we stayed with it,” she added. “We fought through the fatigue.”
Auburn finished with seven shots on goal to LSU’s one, creating more opportunities and hogging more possession throughout regulation, but LSU keeper Mollee Swift finished with six saves and Auburn couldn’t crack her — until the winner.
Anna Haddock sent the ball into the box on a corner kick to start the sequence. Craven, Auburn’s 6-foot-2 defender, only got a glancing touch on the ball before LSU pushed it out of the box. Auburn’s Mallory Mooney tracked it down, though, and lofted the ball back in. Craven got her head on it again around 18 yards out and headed it toward the keeper area. Malonson got another head on it, the ball bounced off Swift rushing for it, and as Malonson and Swift collided, the ball fell at Arias’ feet. Arias booted it in.
She said after the game she pushed through the heat thinking about her teammate Kylie Bechard, who went down with injury just before halftime.
“It’s definitely hard to try and keep pushing through those moments — but the thing that got me through this game was thinking about my teammate, Kylie Bechard, just trying to play the way she would play,” Arias said. “Just really playing for her and sticking with it.
“Just fighting for the ones that can’t be on the field. That keeps me going, honestly.”
Auburn won its second straight after taking a 1-0 win at Mississippi State on Thursday.
Auburn entered the week ranked No. 22 in the latest United Soccer Coaches poll.
“Coach always talks to us about how hard it is to finish an SEC weekend,” Arias said. “I think it was amazing to pull out and get the ‘W.’”
Prohaska saved LSU’s only shot on goal.
She credited the team huddle in the break between full time and overtime when asked how Auburn pushed through to finish the win.
“The biggest thing is the energy that the bench brought,” Prohaska said. “They were talking to use the whole five-minute intermission we had, and I think that energy is what really pushed us in that first couple minutes to get a goal. They just told us to keep pushing, keep pushing.”
Auburn has a week off before returning to action hosting Florida on Sunday at noon.