BATON ROUGE - A record crowd of 2,624 fans packed the LSU Soccer Stadium to witness the LSU Tigers play the Rice Owls to a 1-1 draw as sophomore striker Kaley Blades scored the equalizer in the 74th minute in Friday's home opener for the 2012 season.
With the Tigers trailing the Owls by a 1-0 margin late in the second half, Blades drew the Tigers level at the 73:10 mark when she buried a rebound from inside the six-yard box after an initial shot by freshman winger Fernanda Pina was parried down by Rice goalkeeper Amy Czyz. Blades opened her account when she cleaned up the loose ball to tie the score at 1-1.
Blades set a career-high with six shots on the night, including a team-leading three shots on frame. She nearly delivered the knockout blow two minutes into the first overtime when she rifled a strike off the crossbar from the penalty spot.
"Fernanda (Pina) was creating chances for us all night, and Kaley's (Blades) work rate was rewarded with a head's up play to tie the score for the team," said LSU head coach Brian Lee. "Student and fan support was fantastic tonight. Friday nights in Baton Rouge are special, and it was a lot of fun for us to play in that type of environment in our home opener. I know our student-athletes and support staff appreciate our supporters for their impact on the game."
Senior midfielder Natalie Ieyoub also had an opportunity to net the game-winner in the second overtime period after making a run into the right side of the area and ringing a shot off the left post from 12 yards in the 105th minute. Pina then whistled a volley over the crossbar and out of play for a Rice goal kick.
Rice midfielder Holly Hargreaves broke the ice in the 16th minute of play and gave the Owls an early 1-0 lead against the run of play when she took possession past the midfield stripe, picked up her head and fired a 35-yard laser inside the left post over the outstretched arms of LSU's junior goalkeeper Megan Kinneman.
After Blades netted the equalizer in the 74th minute, the Tigers were given a man advantage when Rice midfielder Lauren Busansky was booked with her second yellow card of the night in the 86th minute of play, but were unable to capitalize with a winning goal over the final 24 minutes of action.
The Tigers were dominant throughout the match as they finished with a 28-13 advantage in total shots with a 12-6 edge in shots on goal. They also led with a 6-2 margin in corner kicks on the night.
The Tigers continue their 10-game homestand on Sunday afternoon when they welcome the NC State Wolfpack to Baton Rouge for a match that is set to kickoff at 1:07 p.m. CT at the LSU Soccer Stadium. LSU will make its television debut as Cox Sports Television will broadcast Sunday's match to a regional audience across the Southeast.
"It's going to be just like an SEC weekend," Lee said. "We go through it every year where the Friday night game is up and back, and then the Sunday game is a real test of fitness and mental toughness for our team. It's part of the determination of how well you take care of your body between Friday night and Sunday afternoon that can help decide the game."