NORMAN, Okla. - In the dying minutes of a match that seemed destined to end in a deadlock, sophomore midfielder Alex Arlitt pounced on a loose ball outside the box and buried a 20-yard strike into the back of the net to lift the Tigers to a 1-0 double overtime victory over the Oklahoma Sooners in LSU's season opener on Monday night at the OU Soccer Complex.
With the clock nearing the two-minute warning in the second overtime period, Arlitt sized up a tantalizing ball rolling outside the penalty area and buried the game-winner past a helpless Kelsey Devonshire in goal for the Sooners. It was Arlitt's third shot of the match and her first attempt on frame.
Arlitt opened her account for 2012 at the 107:24 mark to give the Tigers their first season-opening victory on the road since defeating Stephen F. Austin in Nacogdoches, Texas, to open the 2002 season.
The Tigers (1-0) extended their winning streak to four-straight against the Sooners (1-1) since 2008 while remaining unbeaten in six matches with a 5-0-1 mark in the series.
"We were pinging the ball around in the final third, and we had been down there a lot in the overtime, and someone sent a cross where it bounced around in the box a little bit. I saw it pop out, saw it was a good opportunity for me to hit it, so I did," Arlitt said. "Emily (Cancienne) gave me the OK, and I was just like, 'This is it. I'm going to put this game away right now. I felt it as soon as it came off my foot.
"The first game is always about figuring the team out. It's just a great way for us to start the season. It's a real mental challenge to go on the road for the first time. We battled though both halves and two overtimes, and I think that really says a lot about the team this year that we can stay in it like that."
After battling to a scoreless draw at the break, the Tigers came out flying in the second half as they nearly broke the ice with three opportunistic chances in the opening 15 minutes.
In the 57th minute of play, sophomore defender Jodi Calloway made a run through the middle of Oklahoma's midfield before playing a through ball to sophomore Kaley Blades streaking the penalty area. Blades ripped a strike from 12 yards down the right side that whizzed past a diving Devonshire in the goal and just inches past the left post for an Oklahoma goal kick.
Rookie midfielder Fernanda Pina came back seconds later with a strike of her own as she ran onto an errant clearance by an Oklahoma defender battling Blades for possession and ripped a volley just over the crossbar from 25 yards with Devonshire leaping to challenge the shot.
The Tigers made Devonshire work once more when junior left back Nina Anderson stepped up to take the free kick in the 60th minute when Blades drew a foul 25 yards from goal. Anderson's floated effort up and over the Oklahoma wall was snatched high out of the air by Devonshire racing to cover the left post.
LSU attempted 14 shots on the night and led the way with five shots on goal in nearly 108 minutes of action. Junior goalkeeper Megan Kinneman saved each of Oklahoma's four shots on target in 16 total attempts for the match.
Kinneman added to her highlight reel with just over 19 minutes to play in regulation when Oklahoma's Emily Bowman came up from her back line position and rifled a shot from distance that nearly caught the Tiger keeper too far off her line. Kinneman tracked back and delivered a spectacular leaping save with her effort in punching the ball up and over the crossbar for an Oklahoma corner kick.
Kinneman made four saves on the night for her first shutout of the season and her seventh clean sheet as a Tiger while moving into fifth place on the school's all-time career list.
"We looked like a team that had not played a game yet while playing a team with a couple under their belt in the first half," said LSU head coach Brian Lee. "We were able to relax at halftime before coming out in the second half and passing the ball and moving off the ball much better.
"Our conditioning really took over late in the game. I'm sure Ryan Filo (strength and conditioning coach) smiling back in Baton Rouge. He's done a great job with our team since he's been with us."
With Monday's season opener now in the books, the Tigers are ready to open up a 10-game homestand on Friday night as they welcome the Rice Owls to the LSU Soccer Stadium for a match that will kick off at 7 p.m. CT. They will then make their 2012 television debut on Sunday afternoon as they battle the NC State Wolfpack in Baton Rouge with kickoff set for 1:07 p.m. on Cox Sports Television.