BATON ROUGE – This weekend marks the midway point in the Southeastern Conference season for teams across the league as the SEC-leading LSU Soccer team will put its six-game unbeaten streak on the line Friday night when it welcomes Missouri to Baton Rouge for a match that is scheduled to kick off at 7 p.m. CT at the LSU Soccer Stadium.
The Tigers (8-3-2, 4-0-1 SEC) are unbeaten in five matches to open SEC play for the first time in program history as they top the league table with 13 points in conference action.
LSU is just one point clear of three teams on the SEC table through five matches as Kentucky, South Carolina and Texas A&M are tied for second place at 12 points apiece. Also within striking distance of the top spot are Alabama, Florida and Ole Miss in a tie for fifth place with nine points and Missouri and Tennessee in a tie for eighth place with seven points.
LSU is off to its fastest start through five matches in SEC play after eclipsing its previous best league start of 4-1 in 2009 and 2011. The Tigers are riding a six-match unbeaten streak heading into the weekend with a 5-0-1 mark since a 1-0 victory at Rice to wrap up the non-conference season on Sept. 15. They are also unbeaten in their last eight SEC regular-season matches with a 7-0-1 mark dating back to last season.
The team’s eight-game SEC unbeaten run in the regular season includes a 3-1 road win over No. 16-ranked Missouri in the inaugural match between the two sides in Columbia on Oct. 21 of last season.
Missouri (6-6-1, 2-2-1 SEC) has found its form in recent weeks, which includes a 1-0 shutout of No. 8-ranked Florida on its home field at Audrey J. Walton Stadium in Columbia back on Sept. 29. Missouri is a team with an extensive NCAA Tournament pedigree and championship aspirations as a former Big 12 Conference champion prior to joining the SEC for the first time in 2012.
Fans can “Geaux Free!” to each of LSU’s three remaining home matches during the 2013 regular season as admission is free at the LSU Soccer Stadium, compliments of The Advocate.
Fans who are unable to attend the events can also watch the Tigers in action in the Geaux Zone as live streaming video will be available at www.lsusports.net/live. In addition, supporters can receive live updates of the match against Missouri on Friday night by following @LSUSoccer on Twitter and Instagram or by joining the in-game commentary on LSU Soccer’s official Facebook page.
“Consistency is something that is difficult to maintain in our conference because of the quality of each opponent we face week in and week out,” said LSU head coach Brian Lee. “That’s the challenge we face this week with a great Missouri team coming in tomorrow night.”
The Tigers have certainly been in the headlines throughout the week following their SEC road sweep with a 5-3 win at Arkansas on Friday and a 2-1 double overtime win at Alabama on Sunday last weekend.
Freshman striker Summer Clarke is the reigning TopDrawerSoccer.com National Player of the Week and SEC Offensive Player of the Week after scoring five of the team’s eight goals for the weekend to return home as LSU’s top scorer with eight goals on the campaign. That includes scoring her first career hat trick at Arkansas and both goals at Alabama as she netted the game-winner in both Tiger victories.
Freshman midfielder Emma Fletcher also defended her title as the SEC Freshman of the Week as she was honored for the second week in a row after assisting four of Clarke’s five goals on the weekend, including both game-winning goals in the 63rd minute at Arkansas and 102nd minute of double overtime at Alabama to lead the Tigers to a rare SEC road sweep.
Fletcher has now set an LSU freshman record with 10 assists on the season, including six assists in SEC play, which ranks No. 1 in the SEC and tied for No. 3 in the NCAA scoring charts overall for the 2013 season.
LSU features a diverse attack as 13 different Tigers have scored the team’s 25 goals through 13 matches this season senior Danielle Murphy and freshman Rebecca Pongetti added their names to the scoresheet for the first time this season at Arkansas last Friday night. In addition, 10 different Tigers have also recorded at least one assist on the year.
Missouri is led in the attack by junior midfielder Kaysie Clark, who has netted a team-leading six goals on the season. Clark scored the lone goal for Missouri in LSU’s 3-1 victory in Columbia a year ago.
An overflow crowd is expected on hand for Friday’s match with Missouri as it is a “Student Point Match” with students able to earn valuable priority points toward the purchase of football tickets with their attendance. It will also be “Fire Prevention Night’ as fans can meet Patches, the Baton Rouge Fire Prevention mascot, while also learning about Fire Prevention Week.
The Tigers are excited for the return of “Friday Nights Under the Lights” as they will host a free youth clinic prior to kickoff for each Friday night match for the remainder of the 2013 season. A clinic will be held Friday for boys and girls from preschool through the eighth grade from 6-6:30 p.m. CT as those in attendance are asked to bring their own soccer ball, shin guards and water bottle.
After playing their only match of the weekend against Missouri on Friday night, LSU will return to action next weekend when they welcome the Ole Miss Rebels to Baton Rouge for a match to be held on Friday, Oct. 18, at 7 p.m. CT at the LSU Soccer Stadium. The Tigers will then head to Gainesville, Fla., on Oct. 20 to face the Florida Gators with kickoff scheduled for noon CT at James G. Pressly Stadium.