M.E. Craven has already said, ‘War Eagle!’ twice – once to her brother, who is a student at Auburn University, and again to Tatum Shipes, a Buford volleyball player and close friend since childhood who is committed to the Tigers.
It’s one of Craven’s favorite things about Auburn and one of the reasons the Lambert rising junior verbally committed on Monday to play soccer for the Tigers.
“I feel kind of relieved,” Craven said. “I’ve been working my whole life to play college soccer. To finally be able to know that I can do that, that feels good.”
Craven’s commitment is non-binding. The first chance she has to make it official is November of her senior year, more than a year away.
But the Lady Longhorns standout defender developed an affinity for Auburn early on in her recruiting journey thanks to visiting her brother. She loved the feel of the school from her very first visit, how friends and even acquaintances would yell, ‘War Eagle!’ as they passed each other on campus.
“I like how it’s a big SEC school, but it’s kind of a hometown,” Craven said. “Everyone’s friends with each other.”
Craven had to get the recruiting started. She emailed Auburn’s coaches early this past school year. She got help from her club coach with United Futbol Academy, Iggy Moleka, who knew the Tigers coaching staff. Auburn eventually started coming to watch her club games. They finally offered a scholarship this past Friday.
Craven took a weekend to decide – she had interest and offers from several colleges to consider – but in the end it was easy.
“I loved Auburn from the beginning,” Craven said.
If Craven signs, the Tigers would get one of the premier defenders in Forsyth County, a two-year starter with Lambert who was first-team all-County and all-Region 6-6A last season.
Craven, meanwhile, would join an Auburn program that is steadily gaining in reputation and success. The Tigers went 16-6-1 last season, reached the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Tournament for the first time and finished ranked No. 12 in the country.
“I’m really excited,” Craven said, “and I feel really blessed to have this opportunity.”