Clarke, Baucom Score in Soccer Win at Oregon
EUGENE, Ore. – The LSU Soccer team collected the spoils on its 2,000-mile trip to the West Coast with star strikers Summer Clarke and Jorian Baucom each finding the net in the first half and the visitors turning in a dogged defensive effort in the second to score a 2-1 win over the Oregon Ducks on a beautiful Friday night at Pape Field.
The Tigers (1-0) opened their season with a win for the fourth year in a row while taking a 2-1 series lead in three meetings all-time with Oregon (0-1) on the pitch, including a victory in each of their last two.
Clarke showed her scoring form once again as she followed a two-goal performance in LSU’s 4-0 preseason friendly win over Southern Mississippi a week ago with the opening goal of Friday’s match in the 24th minute. Baucom followed with a quick-strike second in the 31st minute to put the visitors into the lead for good after the Ducks drew level less than a minute before.
“It was a great opening win to come here to Oregon and come out on top against a Pac-12 opponent,” said LSU head coach Brian Lee. “I thought our mentality was great tonight. Our response to their goal was class. It’s a great feeling to get the rewards after spending so much time as a group over these past nine months preparing for this season.”
Clarke drew first blood on the night when she chipped Oregon goalkeeper Lauren Holden from just inside the top of the penalty area to open her account for 2015 nearly 24 minutes into the new season.
With Lexi Gibbs attacking down the left-hand side, she squared to Baucom in space in the left side of the box. Baucom cut inside and squared to Clarke for a touch and chip over a leaping Holden as the ball nestled well into the back of the net to put the Tigers on the board first with a 1-0 lead at the 23:43 mark of the first half.
“It’s just so important to get the first goal in a tight game, especially when your away from home,” Clarke said. “It’s the season opener and they had the crowd here behind them, so you knew they were going to really pumped up for this game. Scoring the first goal meant so much for us in how we were able to play and push on and come away with the win.
“Jorian laid off the perfect ball for me. I got the right contact on it, and I think it was still going in the top corner, but I think it got a little touch off one of their defenders. It was a great feeling to see it hit the net.”
Duck midfielder Marlo Sweatman then knotted the score in the 30th minute with a strike from distance as she found the back of the net from 25 yards to put the home side back on level terms with the clock running to the latter stages of the half. Sweatman fired home with Oregon’s first shot on target of the night.
But Baucom went to work from the ensuing kickoff as she put the visitors back into the lead just 20 seconds from the restart with her first goal of the campaign. After turning her defender and sprinting to the end line, the U.S. Under-20 Women’s National Team striker cut inside and finished a left-footed strike inside the far post from the right edge of the six-yard box to put the Tigers on top, 2-1, in the 31st minute.
“When they scored that goal to tie it up, I think that really just kind of fueled the fire underneath us to go back at them. We knew from there it was going to be a close game, so we needed to respond,” Baucom said. “I almost prefer it on my left foot more than my right, and once I got in that spot I was just able to finish from there. It was still a lot of hard work from there, but we got the win in the end.”
LSU’s senior goalkeeper Catalina Rubiano kept the visitors in the lead going into the break thanks to her quick reaction save from a close-range strike from Oregon’s Ashlee Schulz as she pushed her effort into the post before collecting inside the six-yard box. Each team ended the half with six shots and one corner kick apiece in a tightly-contested opening 45 minutes of the season.
The Tigers were efficient on the night, converting two of their three shots on target in the 2-1 win, while their defense limited the Ducks to five shots on target on their 14 shots in their season-opening match.
“It’s great because we’ve put in nine months of hard work. You can ask any returners on the team. It wasn’t the prettiest game of soccer, but we came here and got the job done,” Clarke said of the victory. “Our focus for this game really was to start fast, and we did that coming out with the win. The feeling after the game was just so great among the team knowing we got what we came here for.”
With the 2015 season now off and running, the Tigers will return home on Tuesday night as they open up a five-game homestand against in-state rival Northwestern State in a match that is set to kick off at 7 p.m. CT at the LSU Soccer Stadium. They will then play host to the Battle on the Bayou next weekend with matches against Western Kentucky on Aug. 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Minnesota on Aug. 30 at 1 p.m.