Soccer Preview: The Midfield
BATON ROUGE - Facilitating LSU's offense this fall is a youthful midfield led by the return of All-SEC candidate Alex Arlitt as arguably the most versatile member of this year's squad. While earning a selection to the SEC All-Freshman Team as one of the SEC's top rookies a year ago, Arlitt started all 22 matches as an attacking midfielder, defensive midfielder and left back.
A native of Houston, Texas, Arlitt boasts a unique skill set to serve as a replacement for either Natalie Martineau in the attack or Allysha Chapman in defense as the squad is now without its All-SEC tandem providing a foundation in the midfield.
Chapman capped her collegiate career as the SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Year as one of the NCAA's elite defensive talents in 2011. Martineau was a team leader in the attack with a Second-Team All-SEC selection as one of the league's premier attacking midfielders.
Arlitt scored two goals and posted three assists in splitting her time between the offensive and defensive ends of the field as the team's top newcomer a year ago.
Junior Emily Cancienne is the team's only returning upperclassman in the midfield as she also looks to crack the playing rotation in defense with 21 starts in her 38 career appearances with the Tigers. The Baton Rouge native started all 21 matches as a freshman in 2010 before earning a spot on the field in 17 contests as a sophomore last fall.
Perhaps no unit will be impacted by first-year Tigers more than the midfield as the squad welcomes the heralded Haley Emerson (Fort Myers, Fla.), Jade Kovacevic (Georgetown, Ontario, Canada) and Heather Magee (Colleyville, Texas) into the program.
Kovacevic will join the program during the non-conference season following an appearance with the Under-20 Canadian Women's National Team at the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup beginning Sunday in Japan. Kovacevic boasts a strong international pedigree as a product of the Canadian Women's National Team system as she emerged on the international stage with three caps in group play at the 2010 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup held in the Caribbean country of Trinidad & Tobago.
Magee has also earned her share of international experience with the U-17 U.S. Women's National Team player pool in 2009. A product of Grapevine High School, she signed with LSU as one of the nation's Top 40 recruits in the Class of 2012 as she was the No. 31-ranked prospect by TopDrawerSoccer.com and the No. 39-ranked recruit in the ESPNHS 150.
A three-star recruit from Fort Myers High School, Emerson was featured as an ESPNRise Player to Watch and TopDrawerSoccer.com Player to Watch as a high school senior.
Redshirt freshman Victoria Sample was sure to be a factor in the midfield rotation during her rookie season last fall before suffering a season-ending knee injury in preseason training. After returning to fitness, Sample will again provide the program with depth in the midfield along with sophomore Nicole McLaughlin and freshman Mariel McLaughlin.
Junior Danielle Murphy is sure to split her time between the front line and midfield as she also saw action on the wing as a top reserve late in the season a year ago. Murphy has made 20 appearances in the last two seasons as she embarks on her junior campaign this fall.