BATON ROUGE – The Tigers were unable to respond when Rice midfielder Samantha Chaiken headed home a corner kick by teammate Quinny Truong just four minutes from time to give the visitors a late 1-0 lead as the home side saw its unbeaten run to start the 2014 campaign snapped on Sunday night at the LSU Soccer Stadium.
The Tigers (2-1) kicked off Sunday unbeaten in their last two matches with the Owls (2-1-1), but also saw their series streak snapped on Chaiken’s late winner on Truong’s corner kick in the 87th minute.
“The level of opponent went up tonight, and we looked like a young team not ready to play,” said LSU head coach Brian Lee when speaking with the media following the match. “I thought the second half we were a lot better than the first half. Our passing and movement off the ball wasn’t at the level it needs to be. When you shorten the game and give away a half, you have to go out there and open things up in the second half.”
The Owls were bright to start with All-Conference USA midfielder Holly Hargreaves creating the first chance of the match in the 15th minute of play. With Rice attacking down the right flank, a pull back from the end line found Hargreaves for a one-time strike from 10 yards that was well saved by LSU’s rookie goalkeeper Lily Alfeld.
LSU striker Summer Clarke nearly struck back on the other end when she was picked out from the end line by Natalia Gomez-Junco for a left-footed blast that nearly clipped the crossbar from the top of the area.
After playing scoreless in the first half, the Tigers turned up the pressure early in the second half and threatened to take the lead with striker Clarke again leading the attack. In the 57th minute of play, Clarke found fellow striker Jorian Baucom in space just inside the penalty area, but her one-time effort was denied by a Rice defender in position for the block. Midfielder Emma Fletcher pounced on the rebound, but her follow up from the top of the six-yard box was saved by Owl goalkeeper Amy Czyz and cleared out of danger.
The two sides struggled to find a breakthrough with extra time looming, but Chaiken sent the visitors home with a victory when she headed home Truong’s corner kick with just over four minutes to play.
“We’ll see how we respond to this in short order,” Lee said following the match. “It’s our job to buck up on Tuesday night and play much better than we did tonight, and then on Friday night play better again. We have an opportunity to respond straightaway. It’s a big game for us when Nicholls comes in here on Tuesday night.”
The Tigers are set to finish up their four-game season-opening homestand on Tuesday night when they welcome the Nicholls State Colonels to Baton Rouge for a match that is slated to kick off at 7 p.m. CDT at the LSU Soccer Stadium. They will then head on the road for the first time next weekend with a trip to Fort Worth, Texas, on Friday night to face TCU with kickoff set for 7 p.m.