BATON ROUGE - The LSU soccer program welcomes an NCAA regional caliber field to Baton Rouge this weekend as Illinois, Oregon and Pepperdine will also compete as part of the 2011 LSU Invitational to be held Friday and Sunday in a grand opening celebration at the new LSU Soccer Stadium.
The Tigers (2-3) are joined this weekend by a pair of Top 20 squads as No. 13-ranked Pepperdine (5-0-1) and No. 20-ranked Illinois (5-1) have been rewarded for their early-season performance with inclusion for the current NSCAA/Continental Tire Top 25 poll. Unbeaten Oregon (4-0-1) is also off to a fast start while receiving votes in the national polls with their early-season performance.
Friday's double header will feature a Top 20 clash between Illinois and Pepperdine that is slated to kick at 5 p.m. CDT before the Tigers take on the Ducks in their 2011 home opener at 7:30 p.m.
The action is sure to heat up Sunday as Illinois and Oregon will battle at 10:30 a.m. followed by the finale between LSU and Pepperdine at 1:07 p.m. in a regionally-televised contest on Cox Sports Television.
Fans have the opportunity to "Geaux Free!" to experience the highest level of college soccer as admission to all four games at the LSU Soccer Stadium this weekend is free, compliments of The Advocate. Not just that, but admission to all home matches this season is free as part of the "Geaux Free!" campaign.
It is a historic weekend for the LSU soccer program as the Tigers unveil their new 2,200-seat LSU Soccer Stadium following an extensive offseason construction project.
Prior to introductions when the Tigers take on the Ducks in Friday's nightcap, a dedication ceremony will be held to officially open the LSU Soccer Stadium as Tigers' head coach Brian Lee and senior goalkeeper and team captain Mo Isom will speak before a 30-second fireworks display. Fans are also invited to watch a 10-minute fireworks show immediately following the game.
"We're excited about the quality of competition joining us this weekend as we begin a new era at the LSU Soccer Stadium," Lee said. "Our fans will have an opportunity to enjoy an NCAA regional atmosphere on Friday and Sunday. It's a tremendous weekend for college soccer right here in Baton Rouge."
The Tigers (2-3) are looking to build upon their 2-1 victory over the Houston Cougars on Tuesday in their final game of a five-game road swing to start the 2011 season.
Two Tigers opened their account in the win over the Cougars as senior Taryne Boudreau gave LSU the 1-0 lead in the 10th minute of play before fellow senior Kellie Murphy scored the game-winning goal for the Tigers in the 74th minute with her first goal of the season. Six different Tigers have now scored LSU's six goals as Alex Arlitt, Carlie Banks, Alex Cook and Natalie Martineau are also on the scoresheet.
In anticipation of the grand opening of the LSU Soccer Stadium on Friday, the Tigers are the only team in the NCAA to play five-straight games on the road to start the season.
As with last weekend's monumental clash between No. 3-ranked Oregon and No. 4-ranked LSU in Dallas at the Cowboys Classic to kick off the 2011 college football season, the Tigers face a tough test versus the unbeaten Ducks on the pitch Friday night as Oregon has yet to allow a goal in five matches.
The Ducks, which have outscored their opponents by an 8-0 margin in 2011, are fresh off a 0-0 draw with No. 16-ranked Santa Clara in their last match played Sunday afternoon in Eugene.
Friday's match is only the second meeting on the soccer pitch between LSU and Oregon as the Ducks had a 2-0 shutout in Eugene on the opening weekend of the 2005 season. It was actually the opening weekend of the Brian Lee era as the Furman alum is now in his seventh season leading one of the emerging powers in the Southeastern Conference as winners of three of the last four SEC West titles.