BATON ROUGE - The first career goal by freshman midfielder Fernanda Piña proved to be the game-winner as she buried an end-line cross from fellow freshman Heather Magee in the 78th minute to give the Tigers a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Stephen F. Austin on Tuesday night at the LSU Soccer Stadium.
With the sides deadlocked at one goal apiece late in the contest, Magee got end line near the left corner flag and fired a left-footed cross to the back post. That's when Piña, standing alone inside of the six-yard box, buried a one-timer into the back of the net for her breakthrough goal as an LSU Tiger at the 77:11 mark of the contest.
The LSU defense stood strong over the final 12 minutes, 49 seconds as the Tigers (3-1-1) improved to 4-0 all-time against the Ladyjacks (4-2) on the pitch.
"I didn't play very well in the first half. Sometimes I feel more comfortable on the right side, I get to the end line better," Piña explained. "I had good position on the back post. Heather (Magee) played a great ball, and I was there to finish. I feel like that's what I have to do. I need to keep getting to the end line and putting myself in position."
Stephen F. Austin jumped out to an early lead when striker Chelsea Raymond scored her team-leading fifth goal of the season off the left post following a free kick service into the penalty area by fellow striker Zuri Prince in the ninth minute of action.
But sophomore Kaley Blades drew the Tigers level in the 33rd minute with a shot from distance that fooled Lacey Lee in goal for the Ladyjacks. Blades' 30-yard effort appeared destined for the feet of LSU senior Carlie Banks, but the veteran dummied the ball past a charging Lee and inside the left post for the equalizer before the halftime whistle.
"We knew that Stephen F. Austin was going to come out as strong as they could against us. It was a tough game," Blades said. "Honestly, I was crossing it to Carlie (Banks) making a great run across the box. She dummied it and it went right in."
The Tigers will wrap up their non-conference season in the coming week with a pair of matches against NCAA Tournament qualifiers from a year ago as they face the likes of Florida International on Friday night at 7 p.m. CT and Memphis on Monday at 7 p.m. at the LSU Soccer Stadium in Baton Rouge.
"We're certainly happy to get the result," said LSU head coach Brian Lee following the match. "I thought Stephen F. Austin came in with a great gameplan and played well tonight. Our kids showed a lot of character to come back and get a win after going down early on to such a quality team. We learned a lot about ourselves tonight in that respect.
"It certainly doesn't get any easier for us after tonight. We have an opportunity to play two more outstanding teams right here at home before opening SEC play."