Soccer Season Preview Part II: The Front Line
BATON ROUGE - Despite losing the services of team captain Courtney Alexander to graduation following the 2010 season, the Tigers are sure to be much improved in the attack on the front line this fall as juniors Carlie Banks and Reyna Lubin, sophomore Addie Eggleston and freshmen Kaley Blades and Alex Cook provide the team with a wealth of scoring talent at the forward position in 2011.
Eggleston returns as the team's most dangerous attacker from a year ago when she scored three goals and dished out a team-high eight assists in her rookie campaign en route to picking up a selection to the SEC All-Freshman Team. She also wrapped up the 2010 campaign as the club's top point scorer with 14 points while starting 20 of 21 games for the Tigers.
The Houston native is poised for a breakout sophomore campaign as she looks to lead the attack while competing for postseason recognition again this fall as one of the SEC's rising offensive stars.
While the Tigers welcome back their top assist maker and point scorer from a season ago in Eggleston, they also welcome back their top two goal scorers for 2011 as Banks tied midfielder Natalie Martineau with a team-high five goals on the campaign. Perhaps the highlight of the 2010 season came in the semifinal round at the SEC Tournament when Banks netted the game-tying goal during the second half in a 1-1 draw with 17th-ranked and No. 2-seeded South Carolina to force a shootout in LSU's bid to advance to the conference final for a second-straight season.
Banks provides the experience up top for the Tigers as she has started 40 of 45 games for her career as she has scored a total of 12 goals in two seasons in Baton Rouge.
The Tigers are also anxious for the return of Blades to the playing rotation after the Largo, Fla., native saw her freshman season cut short after four games when she sustained a torn anterior cruciate ligament in her knee in a Sept. 5 match against Virginia Tech. Blades was tied for LSU's leading goal scorer at the time of her injury with two goals in the first four matches of the year. She received a medical redshirt and will compete as a redshirt freshman for the Tigers this fall.
Lubin is sure to be one of LSU's top options off the bench as she returns this fall after scoring a career high three goals during her sophomore season in 2010. That includes an impressive two-goal performance in a 6-2 win over Mississippi State a year ago for her first career multi-goal game.
"We're very excited about the talent we have returning this fall, especially from our younger players," said LSU head coach Brian Lee. "We all started to see the kind of ability Addie Eggleston has down the stretch last season, and she continued to develop in that role in the spring. We're also anxious to get Kaley Blades back in the lineup after missing most of last year. We really missed her quality in the attack when we struggled to score goals last year.
"We have several very good options to give us the punch we need up top. We'll also have a bit more depth at that position with members of our recruiting class ready to join the program."
Cook joins the program as one of the premier offensive recruits in the country for the Class of 2011 as she signed with the Tigers from Petal High School in Petal, Miss., as a TopDrawerSoccer.com Top 100 recruit nationwide. Cook was a four-star recruit and the No. 88-ranked player in the country for the 2011 recruiting class by the staff at TopDrawerSoccer.com.
Other incoming freshmen who look to earn a spot in the playing rotation on the front line during the 2011 season include Bonnie Campbell (Plantation, Fla.), Lexi Gibbs (Prairieville, La.) and Ashley Libys (Pass Christian, Miss.).