BATON ROUGE – Strikers Summer Clarke and Lexi Gibbs each bagged a brace with two goals apiece to lead the LSU Tigers to an emphatic 6-2 home victory over their in-state rivals Northwestern State Lady Demons on Friday night at the LSU Soccer Stadium for their second-straight victory on to open the 2014 collegiate season.
Clarke and Gibbs found the net in each half and finished with two goals on the night, while midfielder Natalia Gomez-Junco and striker Jorian Baucom each chipped in with their second goals of the young season as the Tigers (2-0) roared to a 6-2 win to run their record to a perfect 4-0 against the Lady Demons (1-2) in their first meeting since the 2001 season.
Just one week after scoring her first goal as an LSU Tiger in a 2-0 season-opening win over Troy, Gomez-Junco scored the breakthrough just four minutes into Friday’s contest for her second goal of the campaign.
After Clarke was fouled by a Northwestern State defender just beyond the left side of the penalty area, Gomez-Junco curled a right-footed free kick over the outstretched arms of Demon goalkeeper Alex Latham and inside the far post to give the Tigers an early 1-0 lead just 3 minutes, 41 seconds into the match.
Clarke doubled LSU’s advantage just minutes later when she one-timed a centering pass from Fernanda Pina into the back of the net from inside the six-yard box. Pina served up her team-leading second assists of the season after breaking free down the right side and finding Clarke in space for an easy one-touch finish in the sixth minute to open her account for the 2014 season.
“We can all score goals, so it’s great to know I can work with them and find ways to score goals,” Clarke said of joining Gomez-Junco and Pina in the attack. “We worked well together, so it just felt easier to find the ball and score goals in this game. We’re just trying out new things, just finding out new ways for us to put the ball in the back of the net.”
Yanci Johnson pulled one back for the visitors on 26 minutes with a brilliant effort from range as she cut back inside from near the right touch line and fired a left-footed strike inside the top-left corner of the net to pull Northwestern State to within 2-1 midway through the first half.
But Gibbs restored LSU’s two-goal advantage before the break within minutes of coming onto the pitch in place of Clarke when she was played through the defense by Gomez-Junco for the breakaway. Gibbs raced to the spot and chipped the ball over a charging Latham sprinting off her line to put the Tigers back on top 3-1 in the 39th minute.
Gibbs not only scored her breakthrough goal of the 2014 season, but she doubled her goal total for her collegiate career as she also netted once during her sophomore season a year ago.
Clarke left little doubt in the outcome when she scored her second goal of the night in the 54th minute as she found herself on a breakaway thanks to a brilliant through ball played behind the Demon defense by fellow Canadian international Emma Fletcher. With Latham again racing off her line to clear the danger, Clarke beat the Northwestern State goalkeeper to possession and fired into an empty net from the top of the box in the 54th minute of the second half for her second goal on the night and second goal of the young season.
Gibbs added a second goal of her own on 66 minutes when she was once again played through for a breakaway, this time by Baucom, and finished for her first multi-goal game as an LSU Tiger. The Tigers took a 5-1 lead midway through the second half thanks to Gibbs’ second score of the night.
“Tonight, we wanted the win, but we are still working on playing well together,” Gibbs said. “I think we played really well tonight. It’s still early in the season and we’re still trying to feel each other out and get a feel for how we play together. It was really fun. It was definitely a team effort. I’m just glad we all showed up and had a good game for all of us.”
The Lady Demons struck back again just 34 seconds after Gibbs found the net when Juila Ranalli buried a one-time strike into the back of the net on a centering pass from Mackenzie Geier in the 67th minute of play.
Baucom later found the scoresheet when she fired home from eight yards with an assist from Gibbs in the 86th minute to give the home side a comfortable 6-2 win. Baucom scored her second goal on the spin after she got off the mark just 48 seconds into her collegiate debut for what proved to be the game-winning goal in LSU’s 2-0 season opening victory over Troy a week ago.
The Tigers continue their four-game homestand to open the season on Sunday evening when the welcome the Rice Owls to Baton Rouge for a match that is set to kick off at 6 p.m. CT at the LSU Soccer Stadium. They’ll then wrap up their homestand on Tuesday when they play host to the Nicholls State Colonels in a match that is set to kick off at 7 p.m.
LSU Soccer vs. Northwestern State
Aug. 29, 2014
HEAD COACH BRIAN LEE
On the importance of scoring the third goal before halftime …
“Not as big as the fourth one is. You know, when it’s 2-0 the game is really in the balance, and for a young team, you know it’s something we’ve got to learn that 2-0 is a huge difference between 3-0. You’d always prefer to really be up a goal, one more goal, but 2-0 is a much more dangerous lead than 1-0. At 1-0, you’re focused, you’re on your toes, the mentality is that it’s still a tight game. Then you get the second goal and then you just relax. It’s human nature and then 2-1 is a much bigger problem. But to get the third goal, that just sets the table. The fourth goal’s the winner and kind of kills the momentum.”
On the physicality in the game against Northwestern State …
“It was, and you know, it’s a lot of credit to Northwestern State. You want to be pushed, and you want to you know whatever type of game you want to be prepared for. I thought even when the game got a little out of hand, we kept fighting and trying and they weren’t malicious, they were just trying really hard. So, I thought kudos to them for that.”
On how well Summer Clarke, Fernanda Pina and Natalia Gomez-Junco worked together tonight …
“I thought they were starting to come together a little bit, and I was really impressed with the group that came on behind them, Lexi Gibbs, Madeline Ramsey and Jorian (Baucom). You know I think we can really throw four to six forwards in any game and really rotate them and stay fresh, and I thought all of the combinations up front were good.”
On the number of offside calls against the Tigers on the night …
“I thought Northwestern State did a good job stepping a high line, but we don’t mind being offside. Maybe not seven times, but we’d like to be offside three, four or five times a game. It means we are threatening to penetrate and we are on the last man. Then, when we are a step to the right side, we are going to get a really good chance, so there is a good portion of that that is encouraging.”
On the play of Lily Alfeld in her second collegiate start for the Tigers …
“I think she controls the game really really well. Her communication is good. I don’t think she had a chance on either goal. The first one was a good strike from the top of the box, and maybe we could have closed it down. On the second one, they get around the back of us and pull a ball back, so again, very happy with Lily’s performance. We just need to earn the back and to get a little bit better communication and organization.”
FORWARD/MIDFIELDER NATALIA GOMEZ-JUNCO
On the physicality of the game …
“They were tough and very physical. They never gave up, so you have to give credit to that. We stayed focused the whole time and tried to settle in and put more balls in the back of the net.”
On playing in the forward position …
“I think we have a strong offense. We can switch players around because we have a lot of variety and options. That’s very good that we are very versatile. It’s interesting to see how we come together playing in different positions.”
FORWARD SUMMER CLARKE
On playing on the same front line as Natalia Gomez-Junco and Fernanda Pina …
“It was good, it was a lot of fun. We can all score goals, so it’s great to know I can work with them and find ways to score goals. The first ball right off the bat is a good example of that.”
On her team’s offensive performance tonight …
“I think, as a team, we were meshing well together this game versus last game. We worked well together, so it just felt easier to find the ball and score goals in this game.”
On the strategy of this game …
“We’re just trying out new things, just finding out new ways for us to put the ball in the back of the net. We weren’t trying to do anything different.”
FORWARD LEXI GIBBS
On scoring two goals in the match …
“It was really fun. It was definitely a team effort, I couldn’t do it without any of them. I’m just glad we all showed up and had a good game for all of us.”
On how they felt before this game versus the Troy game …
“It’s still early in the season and we’re still trying to feel each other out and get a feel for how we play together. Some of us are returning, so we have a feel how we play, but we have a ton of new players that are getting the feel for things and each other. We are still trying to figure out their method and their routine of play. Tonight, we wanted the win, but we are still working on playing well together.”