With Draw, Soccer Extends Unbeaten Streak
BATON ROUGE - Junior goalkeeper Megan Kinneman saved each of Florida International's six shots on target to pitch her third shutout of the 2012 season on Friday night as the Tigers played the visiting Panthers to a scoreless draw in 110 minutes of action at the LSU Soccer Stadium.
Kinneman's heroics were certainly felt in the first overtime period when she denied the Panthers a Golden Goal victory on breakaway opportunities by strikers Ashleigh Shim and Chelsea Leiva in the 96th and 97th minutes for two of her six saves on the night. Each time she raced off her line to cut off the angle for the opposition before making a diving save to keep the Panthers off the scoreboard.
The Tigers (3-1-2) extended their unbeaten streak to three-straight games as they played the Panthers (2-2-1) scoreless in 110 minutes of action in their first meeting on the pitch.
"Of course we want to score some goals, but I think that will come with the more games we play. The goals will come," Kinneman said following the match. "We were creating some opportunities tonight, but we just weren't finishing chances. We need to be sharper in the final third. We cleaned it up a little bit on defense, just have to stay focused through the whole game.
"I wasn't thinking too much when they were on the break. A lot of it was just instinct and reaction. I just had to judge when to come out and steal ground to cut off their angle."
Junior striker Addie Eggleston gave the Tigers their best opportunity to break the ice in the 29th minute of the first half with an opportunistic strike on one of the team's five corner kicks in the frame and 11 corner kicks in the match. Within a minute after coming onto the pitch, Eggleston found herself on the end of a loose ball in the box following a service from the right corner flag by freshman Jade Kovacevic and fired a strike from eight yards on frame that forced a full-extension diving save toward the left post by Panther goalkeeper Kaitlyn Savage.
Savage stood on her head once again in the 35th minute when LSU's freshman Haley Emerson freed up sophomore striker Kaley Blades for a one-on-one opportunity in the left side of the area. Emerson played Blades in behind the Panther back line for a left-footed strike from eight yards that forced another diving save from Savage to preserve the scoreless draw going into the break.
The Tigers continued to pressure for the breakthrough into a second half played entirely in Florida International's end of the field.
Just two minutes into the second half, Kovacevic made her presence felt with a brilliant end-line cross to the far post from the right side as she found freshman winger Heather Magee running free at the net through the middle of the area. Magee timed her jump for an open header, but missed an opportunity by a matter of inches that would have opened the floodgates for the home side.
The visitors were given their only opportunity in the dying seconds of regulation when Shim broke free from the Tiger defense after running onto a through ball behind LSU's back line.
As she threatened to give the Panthers a dramatic victory in the final 10 seconds, Kinneman showed no hesitation in racing off her line and getting just enough of a glove on Shim's chip shot from 12 yards to thwart the attack and force overtime as the remaining seconds ticked off the clock on the clearance by the Tigers.
The Tigers controlled the second half while finishing with a 15-2 shot advantage, but managed just two shots on target in the period. LSU held a decisive advantage on the final score sheet at 23-10 in total shots and 11-0 in corner kicks, but was unable to find the net in 110 minutes of action.
"We had plenty of the ball tonight. We certainly would have liked to get a goal out of it," said LSU head coach Brian Lee. "They almost caught us on the break a few times, but Megan Kinneman made such great saves to clean the scoresheet. She has been fantastic all season long. We just have to start winning these games in front of her."
The Tigers LSU will wrap up their non-conference schedule on Monday as they welcome the Memphis Tigers to Baton Rouge in a game that is slated to kick off at 7 p.m. CDT in Monday Night Futbol at the LSU Soccer Stadium. The team kicks off SEC play in eight days as it welcomes the Texas A&M Aggies into the conference next weekend.