BATON ROUGE - Within minutes of coming out of the halftime break, senior captain Kellie Murphy broke the ice in the 50th minute of play with her second goal of the season to lead the LSU soccer team to a 1-0 shutout of the McNeese State Cowgirls before 1,094 fans Friday night at the LSU Soccer Stadium.
Senior midfielder Natalie Martineau led the build up for the only goal of the match with her run down the left flank as she played a square ball to junior striker Carlie Banks in the middle of the penalty area.
Banks then took a touch and fed Murphy in the right side of the box for a 12-yard strike slotted just out of the reach of McNeese State goalkeeper Cassandra Read and inside the left post at the 49:55 mark.
"Drawing this game was not an option for us tonight," Murphy said. "I saw a chance and knew it might be our best opportunity of the night. It felt like I struck it well and it went in. Carlie played a good ball to me in space and all I had to do was place it. It was a good feeling to see it go in."
"Our style of play is very reliant on our midfielders coming through to help us score goals and Kellie burst through on the right and took her chance really well," said LSU head coach Brian Lee. "She's a very brave kid who puts herself in those situations to win games for us. I'm really proud of her."
The shutout would not come easily for the LSU defense as senior goalkeeper Mo Isom made a spectacular save in the waning seconds as Cowgirl defender Amanda Denton rifled a 30-yard strike on frame from the right side of the field. After being drawn slightly off her line, Isom recovered to reach back over her head and punch the ball over the crossbar and out of play for a corner kick just nine seconds from time.
It was Isom's third shutout of the season and 25th clean sheet of her career as she is now tied for the No. 7 spot on the SEC's career list for shutouts. She made four big saves on the night to lead the LSU defense.
With the win, LSU (4-3-1) extended its unbeaten streak to four-straight games as it now stands at 3-0-1 in that span. The Tigers also improved to 8-1 all-time against the Cowgirls (4-5) with their seventh-straight win and third-straight shutout in the series. Not only that, but LSU has now outscored McNeese State by a 35-3 margin in their nine meetings all-time on the soccer pitch.
The Tigers outshot the Cowgirls by a 19-6 margin in total shots and a 5-4 edge in shots on goal. LSU also attempted seven corner kicks on the night to just three corner kicks for McNeese State. The Tigers own an impressive 41-7 advantage in corner kicks over their opponents in the last five matches.
The Tigers return to action for a rare Monday fixture as they wrap up their non-conference slate with their match against the Oklahoma Sooners that is set to kick off at 7 p.m. CDT at the LSU Soccer Stadium. The Tigers will then open SEC play at home next weekend against a pair of SEC West rivals as they battle the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. and the Ole Miss Rebels on Sept. 25 at 1 p.m.