BATON ROUGE – Strikers Summer Clarke and Jorian Baucom each scored their team-leading third goals of the season while fellow striker Fernanda Pina opened her account with her first goal of the campaign to lead the Tigers to a clinical 3-0 victory over the visiting Nicholls State Colonels on Tuesday night at the LSU Soccer Stadium.
The Tigers (3-1) bounced back in a big way from their first defeat of the season suffered on Sunday night in their first meeting with the Colonels (2-3) on the soccer pitch since the 2004 season. It is a series in which LSU has dominated as the home side ran its record to 6-1 all-time against its in-state rival.
The Tigers were rewarded for their early pressure in the eighth minute of play when Pina netted her first goal of the season and ninth goal of her collegiate career to put the Tigers on top 1-0.
With rookie midfielder Madeline Ramsey leading the attack down the left side, Clarke received a pass from the South Carolina native in the left side of the area and beat her defender to the end line where she pulled back an entry pass to Pina running toward the back post. Pina buried a one-time strike into the back of the net to get off the mark this season and give the Tigers an early lead at the 7:11 mark of the first half.
“Yeah, that was my first goal. It was great!” Pina exclaimed when talking with the media afterward. “I want to score each game, of course, but tonight was my first and I’m really happy it happened. We were prepared for this game, and I’m glad we got this win. I’m very happy to be a part of this team and to have the opportunity to be on the field.
“It’s just all about being ready mentally and physically. You’ve got to come out ready to play and ready to run and work hard. We did that tonight, and I think had a good performance to get the win.”
Clarke then doubled their advantage on 19 minutes with her team-leading third goal of the season when she raced into the six-yard box and fired home a header from Natalia Gomez-Junco’s free kick that smashed off the crossbar from 20 yards out just beyond the penalty area. Clarke caught the defense ball-watching for an easy finish after Gomez-Junco’s free kick fired off the crossbar and into the turf below.
“I don’t score very many headers, so that was fun to be able to finish it,” Clarke said of her goal. “Fernanda was screaming for the ball on the other side, so I hit her and she just hit it one-time (for the first goal). One of our goals is to take one or two touches and play it to someone’s feet. We tried to do that a lot better in this game. Communication was a lot better in this game, too.”
Baucom then trebled LSU’s lead before halftime with the third goal of her rookie campaign with an composed finish on a breakaway after being played through the Colonel defense on a header in midfield by Christyna Pitre. Baucom beat Nicholls State goalkeeper Taylor Moseley to the ball near the top of the area after Pitre headed a goal kick into space behind the back line.
It was just what the doctor ordered for the Tigers as they bounced back straightaway from their first defeat of the campaign when they fell to the Rice Owls by a 1-0 scoreline on Sunday evening in Baton Rouge.
Rookie goalkeeper Lily Alfeld stayed alert between the posts throughout the night as she saved each of Nicholls State’s three shots on target in the match, most notably denying Spencer Valdespino on a whistling shot from 10 yards out in the 10th minute of the first half and Emily Werenskiold on a close-range effort on a corner kick in the 57th minute of the second half.
“It was just really in how we played and how we competed for the 90 minutes,” said LSU head coach Brian Lee on his team rebounding from Sunday’s defeat. “For the first time this fall, I thought we started getting the pass and move idea, and trusting each other and just playing more attractive soccer.”
The Tigers held the advantage in the run of play throughout the night, finishing with a 21-5 advantage in total shots, a 10-3 lead in shots on target and narrow 5-4 edge in corner kicks over the 90 minutes of action.
With their four-game homestand to open the season now in the books, the Tigers will go on the road for the first time in 2014 on Friday night with a trip to Fort Worth, Texas, to face the TCU Horned Frogs in a match to kick off at 7 p.m. CT at the Garvey-Rosenthal Stadium. They will then return home on Monday, Sept. 8, when they play host to Stephen F. Austin with kickoff set for 7 p.m. at the LSU Soccer Stadium.
LSU Soccer vs. Nicholls State
Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014
HEAD COACH BRIAN LEE
On the team’s performance following Sunday’s defeat to Rice …
“It was just really in how we played and how we competed for the 90 minutes. For the first time this fall, I thought we started getting the pass and move idea, and trusting each other and just playing more attractive soccer.”
On the number of offside calls against the Tigers facing Nicholls State’s high back line …
“As a group, we want to be close to the line and we want to be offside, and probably the more concerning ones are when it’s the widest player who can see all the way across the line. You’ve just got to be paying attention to be slipped in, but that’s just a work in progress and we still want to be on the edge of offside, just not that many times. We want to get through a few more times.”
On the performance of Megan Lee during the match …
“She’s class, an excellent player. She can go without playing a week and step right on and be first-class. I thought she was excellent, and we’ll grow her minutes as the games go on here. She’s going to play a big part in our season.”
On Natalia Gomez-Junco’s free kicks taken during the match …
“She likes to get a little creative sometimes, and really she can sting a ball. So, anywhere inside our half we really just want her hitting it on frame and with pace.”
On preparing a young team to go on the road for the first time …
“We have a lot of things we’re still working on between the lines, so we’re not so worried about the off the field stuff right now. Hopefully they can get their focus on that stuff and ignore the outside things, but it’s just the mental challenge of college sports and they’re going to have to get used to it.”
On LSU’s first road test of the season playing at TCU on Friday night …
“It’s always a challenge in college soccer to go on the road and win and go to a hostile environment. Friday night at TCU, they’ll have a really good crowd, but it’ll be just like an SEC game later in the season so our young team’s got to go deal with it and learn.”
MIDFIELDER NATALIA GOMEZ-JUNCO
On her set pieces and free kicks almost resulting in goals …
“It was just one of those days where the ball refused to go in. That happens, but I’m just happy that we won 3-0.”
On the leadership of the midfield since Alex Arlitt’s injury …
“Alex is a great help with her leadership and skill. Today, we covered that spot well. I think people stepped up and had a great game. That’s a positive because that means we can count on a big roster, not just when we have injuries, but when we are healthy. It allows for a good rotation from everyone.”
On the midfield’s progression through the first four games …
“It’s a matter of playing with each other and finding out everyone’s tendencies and movements off the ball. I think we have a good rotation going on there too. Emma (Fletcher) can step in and play offensively, or I can step in and play there, too. We have several good players that can play in those positions, and I think that makes it hard for other teams to mark us.”
MIDFIELDER HEATHER MAGEE
On the game plan after the early lead…
“I feel like once we went up two goals it really settled things down. Coach (Brian Lee) was saying in the locker room two touches and keep possession. Once we got into the penalty area, we would fire away.”
On getting prepared for TCU on Friday night …
“TCU is going to be a very good match, a lot like Rice. I feel like we need to be quicker with our passes and finishing all of our chances and with what we are given. That’ll give us a chance to get a result on the road.”
FORWARD SUMMER CLARKE
On her goal and assist tonight …
“For me, I don’t score very many headers so that was fun to be able to finish it. Fernanda was screaming for the ball on the other side, so I hit her and she hit it one-time.”
On the team’s communication during the match …
“One of our goals is to take one or two touches and play it to someone’s feet. We tried to do that a lot better this game. Overall, talking to each other and communication was a lot better this game too."