GAINESVILLE, Fla. - The LSU soccer team made history on a beautiful Sunday afternoon in Gainesville by shutting out the 11th-ranked Florida Gators by a 1-0 score to clinch its fourth SEC Western Division championship in five seasons with its first win over Florida in program history.
The Tigers (12-6-1, 7-3 SEC) clinched their fourth SEC West crown with a victory over the Gators (14-5, 7-3) and Tennessee's 2-0 shutout of Auburn in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday afternoon.
The victory also sets up a scenario in which the Tigers could clinch a share of the overall SEC title a week from now with a win at Arkansas on Friday night. LSU would finish in a three-way tie for the SEC crown with Florida and South Carolina if the Gators defeat the Gamecocks here in Gainesville on Friday.
Sunday's victory also extends LSU's unbeaten streak against nationally-ranked opponents to four-straight games dating back to the 2010 season as the Tigers are now 2-0-1 in matches against ranked foes in 2011.
"I thought it was a really mature and composed performance by our team here today," said LSU head coach Brian Lee. "Our back four was outstanding. We made some tactical changes from how we typically like to play, and I thought our kids did a great job of executing the gameplan today. I'm proud of the level of effort we showed today against an outstanding team like Florida.
"Florida is a tremendous team and a great program that plays well at home. It's special for our program to now clinch the SEC West and give ourselves an opportunity to win an SEC championship next week."
Senior All-SEC and All-America hopeful Taryne Boudreau certainly made LSU's first shot count with an impressive 40-yard strike following a goal kick in the 33rd minute of play.
After Tiger goalkeeper Mo Isom fired a goal kick over the midfield stripe, senior Natalie Martineau found herself with the possession following a header by a Gators defender. Martineau laid it off to Boudreau just beyond the midfield circle, and in true Boudreau fashion, she took one touch of the ball and sent a cracker from distance sailing over a leaping Florida goalkeeper Brooke Chancey at the top of the six-yard box and into the back of the net to give LSU the 1-0 lead at the 32:05 mark.
That's all the scoring the Tigers would need to come away with the victory and a precious three points for their effort as they withstood Florida's potent offensive attack over the final 57 minutes of play.
"I kind of saw her (Brooke Chancey) out a little bit, but Mart was the one who was telling me to shoot it," Boudreau said. "I just took the shot. The two other times I played here, they killed us. It's an unbelievable feeling to help our team win a game like this against a team like Florida in my senior season."
While Florida attempted 16 shots on the afternoon, the Gators only put four shots on frame as Isom saved all four attempts to pitch her seventh shutout of the season. She also continued her ascent to the top of the SEC record books with the 29th clean sheet of her career to move into a tie for the No. 4 spot in the SEC's history with former Georgia goalkeeper Nicole Williams (1997-2000).
The Tigers have been especially impressive on Sunday afternoons throughout the SEC season as they end the regular season with a perfect 5-0 mark against their conference rivals in Sunday matches.
The Tigers go back on the road next weekend to wrap up the 2011 regular season as they make the trek to Razorback Field in Fayetteville, Ark., on Friday night to battle the Arkansas Razorbacks in a match slated for a 7 p.m. CDT kickoff. The Tigers then make their annual trip to Orange Beach, Ala., to compete in the 2011 SEC Tournament beginning Nov. 2 at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.