BATON ROUGE - Just minutes after 13th-ranked Pepperdine took a 1-0 lead in Sunday's finale at the 2011 LSU Invitational, freshman Alex Arlitt scored the equalizer on the hour and the LSU defense turned in an inspired effort as the LSU soccer team played to a 1-1 draw with the Waves to highlight an unbeaten week as part of the grand opening of the LSU Soccer Stadium.
Sunday's derby marked the first meeting between LSU (3-3-1) and Pepperdine (6-0-2) on the soccer pitch as the Tigers improved to 4-4-5 against nationally-ranked opponents in matches played in Baton Rouge of the Brian Lee era. The Tigers also extended their home unbeaten streak to three games with the draw.
With their effort, the Tigers capped an unbeaten week as they wrapped up a five-game road swing to open the season on Tuesday with a 2-1 win at Houston before their 1-0 shutout of Oregon on Friday night.
"Pepperdine is very good. I thought it was a good, even game for much of the afternoon," Lee said. "After it started to get late and get into overtime, we just kept pushing and pushing. If one team was going to end up winning it, I thought it was going to be us. I'm proud of the effort we showed today against a team that is one of the best in the country this season. That was definitely a key in us playing well today."
The Waves broke the ice in the 56th minute when senior midfielder Laura Cole buried a shot from near the top of the six-yard box following a centering pass into the area from freshman striker Lynn Williams.
In what proved to be Pepperdine's only clear scoring opportunity in the run of play in 110 minutes of play on Sunday afternoon, Williams raced to the end line down the right flank before cutting back into the area and centering a pass to Cole for the finish from about six yards directly in front of the net.
But the lead was short-lived as Arlitt equalized on the hour with her second goal of the season following a corner kick by the Tigers in the 60th minute of the second half.
Taryne Boudreau served a cross into the box that found the feet of senior Kellie Murphy in space standing in the left side of the area. While Murphy's shot was deflected away from the net, fellow senior Natalie Martineau raced to the end line to ensure the ball would not go out of play. That's when Martineau slotted a pass through traffic to Arlitt for the finish inside the six-yard box at the 59:48 mark.
It marked the second time this week that the Tigers have scored as a result of a corner kick as their winner against Houston on Tuesday night came on such a set piece in the 74th minute. LSU has now attempted 34 corner kicks in its last four matches, while limiting opponents to just four corners during that span.
The Tigers certainly enjoyed the run of play for much of the afternoon while holding a 14-11 advantage in total shots and an 8-0 lead in corner kicks. The Tigers also led the way with a 5-4 edge in shots on goal.
Martineau nearly gave the Tigers the win in the second overtime on a strike from point-blank range with a tremendous reaction save by Pepperdine's goalkeeper Roxanne Barker with less than five minutes to play. After finding space in the left side of the area, Murphy cut inside and slotted Martineau racing to goal into the teeth of the Waves defense. Her one-timer from inside the six-yard box was denied with a tremendous diving effort by Barker to preserve the 1-1 draw in Sunday's tournament finale.
The Tigers played inspired on the defensive end while facing perhaps one of the most potent attacks in the country. The unbeaten Waves had outscored their opponents by a 15-5 margin, while averaging just under 15 shots and seven shots on goal per match in their previous seven outings.
That effort is what earned freshman defender Jodi Calloway the Defensive MVP honor in helping lead the Tigers on the back line while allowing a tournament-low one goal for the weekend.
Joining Calloway as part of the 2011 LSU Invitational All-Tournament Team for the performance was the freshman Arlitt in defense and both Boudreau and fellow senior Allysha Chapman in the midfield.
The Tigers will now turn their attention to Friday night as they return to action with an in-state battle with the McNeese State Cowgirls that is set for kickoff at 7 p.m. CDT at the LSU Soccer Stadium. LSU is then set to wrap up its non-conference schedule on Monday, Sept. 19, against 2010 Big 12 Tournament runner-up Oklahoma in a match that is also set to kick off at 7 p.m. at the LSU Soccer Stadium.
2011 LSU Invitational All-Tournament Team
Note: Players were selected regardless of position
F - Anisa Guajardo, Pepperdine
F - Megan Pawloski, Illinois
F - Lynn Williams, Pepperdine
M - Taryne Boudreau, LSU
M - Allysha Chapman, LSU
M - Laura Cole, Pepperdine
M - Vanessa DiBernardo, Illinois
M - Jackie Guerra, Illinois
D - Alex Arlitt, LSU
D - Jodi Calloway, LSU
D - Michelle Pao, Pepperdine
Offensive MVP: Laura Cole, Pepperdine
Defensive MVP: Jodi Calloway, LSU
LSU Head Coach Brian Lee
On LSU's 1-1 draw with No. 13 Pepperdine ...
"I think Pepperdine is very good. I thought it was a good, even game for a long portion. As the game got late and we got into overtime, we were pushing and pushing. If one team was going to be the winner, I thought it probably would be us."
On LSU's finishing with an 8-0 advantage in corner kicks ...
"It says we got a lot of the ball, and it says we're not just settling for long-range shots. We're trying to play through teams."
LSU Goalkeeper Mo Isom
On her performance this season ...
"I've really tried to come off my line strong, to come up for crosses big and just be fearless back there (in goal). It makes a difference mentally and physically with that kind of presence."
On LSU's performance in recent games ...
"The soccer that we played out here this week was beautiful soccer. There's nothing to hang our heads about, even with that tie. We're confident right now. We'll get the goals. They're coming."
Pepperdine Head Coach Tim Ward
On Sunday's finale at the 2011 LSU Invitational ...
I thought we were a little sluggish to start, and LSU did a really great job. We got the penalty kick and missed, but up until that point, I didn't think we deserved to score. I'm always brutally honest with my team."
On the result of the game...
"LSU kept putting balls in and our keeper had to make a wonder save at the end to preserve the tie. So, considering we could've lost or could've won it, a tie is probably a fair result. It wasn't our best performance, but we'll take a tie any day of the week."
2011 LSU Invitational
Game 3: #20 Illinois def. Oregon, 5-0
September 11, 2011
Illinois Head Coach Janet Rayfield
On her team's 5-0 win ...
"It was a game that we played on both sides of the ball for 90 minutes, offensively and defensively. It showed on the scoreboard as well."
How the tournament prepares the team for the conference schedule...
"When you're playing two games on the road in a weekend and traveling distances, you're going to see that in your conferences. But I also think it's something that prepares you for further down the road in terms of potential NCAA and postseason things where you have to go on the road play a team on a neutral site, play a team that's at a home site. It's those kind of experiences that help you in both you conference schedule and hopefully in the postseason."