BATON ROUGE – First place on the Southeastern Conference table will be on the line Sunday afternoon in Tuscaloosa, Ala., when SEC-leading LSU wraps up another road weekend in league play with a match against second-place Alabama as the two sides are scheduled to kick off at 1 p.m. CT at the Alabama Soccer Stadium.
The Tigers (7-3-2, 3-0-1 SEC) remain the only unbeaten team in SEC play in the wake of a thrilling 5-3 victory at Arkansas on Friday night to run their unbeaten streak to five-straight games.
The Tigers are streaking with a 4-0-1 mark in their last five matches dating back to a 1-0 shutout at Rice in their non-conference finale on Sept. 15. They will look to remain unbeaten in five matches to open SEC play for the first time in program history on Sunday as they are unbeaten in four matches for just the third time in team history following a team-best 4-0 start in league play in 2009 and 2011.
LSU is also riding an impressive seven-game unbeaten streak in its series with the Crimson Tide (5-6, 3-1) while posting a 5-0-2 mark since the 2006 season, including a three-game winning streak in Tuscaloosa. LSU and Alabama played to a 1-1 draw in their last meeting at the LSU Soccer Stadium in Baton Rouge during the 2012 regular season.
While the Tigers went on the road to claim a 5-3 win at Arkansas on Friday night, the Crimson Tide scored a 3-2 overtime win at 20th-ranked Georgia to remain in a tie for second place in the SEC standings.
“It seems that each year the SEC Championship is won on two fronts, on the road and on Sunday afternoons,” said LSU head coach Brian Lee. “Alabama will be playing with a lot of confidence following a big win on the road at Georgia on Friday night. It’s going to take a great effort on our part for the full 90 minutes to come away with three points and hold onto our current position.”
LSU’s freshman class certainly propelled the side to a win at Arkansas on Friday night while combining for four goals and three assists in the 5-3 victory. Striker Summer Clarke scored her first career hat trick by doubling her goal tally with six goals on the campaign as the team’s top scorer, while midfielder Emma Fletcher tied the team’s single-game record with three assists to lead the offensive attack. With three assists for the match, Fletcher set a new LSU freshman record with a team-leading nine assists on the season.
Senior striker Danielle Murphy and freshman defender Rebecca Pongetti also found the scoresheet for the first time this season as the Tigers are now unbeaten in their last seven SEC regular-season matches over the past year with a 6-0-1 mark dating back to a 3-2 overtime win at Ole Miss in Oxford on Oct. 19 of last season.
The Crimson Tide are led by a Dutch international as junior striker Pia Rijsdijk has scored a team-leading four goals on the season after earning Second-Team All-SEC honors as a sophomore in 2012.
After wrapping up the weekend at Alabama on Sunday afternoon, the Tigers will return home next weekend as they play host to the Missouri Tigers on Friday at 7 p.m. CT at the LSU Soccer Stadium. It will be their only match next weekend as they will then welcome the Ole Miss Rebels to Baton Rouge for another big SEC showdown on Friday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m.