BATON ROUGE – One look at the makeup of LSU’s squad with each passing season of the Brian Lee era reveals that the success of the Tigers is built on the foundation of a strong midfield as they feature one of the SEC’s top units year in and year out.
In fact, of the 17 first-team or second-team All-SEC honors earned by the Tigers in eight previous seasons under Lee’s direction, 12 have been awarded to the midfield unit as this group leads the charge in attack and provides the first line of defense for the squad on the pitch.
Facilitating LSU’s offense this fall is a youthful midfield led by the return of sophomores Heather Magee in the center of the pitch and Fernanda Pina on the wing, as well as incoming freshman Emma Fletcher stepping into the attacking role. The Tigers are also blessed with veteran strength in the middle of the pitch as senior Alex Ramsey will play centrally along with Magee to provide a strong backbone for the team.
And with freshman Summer Clarke find a spot in the starting lineup as either a center forward or on the wing opposite Pina, the midfield is sure to pace the Tigers once again during the 2013 season.
Pina is the team’s return point scorer from a season ago when she scored four goals and dished out four assists for 12 points in her debut season with the Tigers in 2012. The Puebla, Mexico, native appeared in all 21 of LSU’s matches while making 12 starts on the wings with an ability to play on either side of the field. Pina also led the team with two game-winning goals during her freshman season in guiding the Tigers to home victories over Stephen F. Austin and Arkansas during the regular season.
Magee, who played primarily as a wing midfielder in her rookie season last fall, will take on a more central role as a sophomore as she will join Ramsey in the middle to provide the link between offense and defense for perhaps the strongest unit on the field for the Tigers in 2013. Like Pina, Magee also netted two game-winning goals against Houston and Memphis a year ago while making 20 starts on the season.
Fletcher will link with her teammates in the attack as she also brings an international pedigree to the squad as a veteran of the youth national team systems in Canada and New Zealand during her prep career.
A native of Victoria, British Columbia, Fletcher proved to be a danger in the attack for New Zealand’s Under-17 squad while making three starts for the Young Football Ferns at the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup in Azerbaijan last fall. After earning eight international caps at the U-17 level with New Zealand over the past two years, Fletcher was called into camp during the spring season with the U-20 Canadian Women’s National Team as part of its EXCELeration camp program used to identify the player pool for the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup being held in 2014.
Ramsey returns for her senior season as the most experienced member of LSU’s midfield unit with 61 starts in 63 appearances during her collegiate career. Like junior teammates Alex Arlitt and Jodi Calloway, Ramsey has been an integral member of LSU’s midfield and defensive back line during her time in Baton Rouge.
Arlitt and Calloway will certainly provide depth in the midfield if needed as Arlitt can play both attacking and defensive roles with Calloway falling back into defense as the situation calls. Both will open the season in two different roles as Arlitt anchors the back line as a center back and Calloway moves forward as a central striker for the first time in her career.
Also providing depth in the defensive midfield is senior Emily Cancienne as the Baton Rouge native has started 23 of 51 career matches with the Tigers since joining the squad as a freshman in 2010.
The Tigers are also excited to welcome a capped member of Mexico’s Women’s National Team into the program this season as junior transfer Natalia Gomez-Junco will redshirt this season following a two-year stint at the University of Memphis.
A dynamic attacking midfielder, Gomez-Junco is a former All-Conference USA performer at Memphis who arrived on campus in January ahead of the spring season. After appearing in seven matches for Mexico at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup in 2010 and 2012, Gomez-Junco was a member of the Mexico’s senior squad that competed at the 2013 Algarve Cup in Portugal where she earned her first and second international caps for El Tri at the senior level.
LSU will also be without the services of sophomore Haley Emerson this season following spring training in which she suffered a season-ending knee injury.