BATON ROUGE - Haley Emerson's first career goal as an LSU Tiger was golden as she scored the game-winning goal in the 108th minute of play to lift the Tigers to a 1-0 double overtime win over the visiting Vanderbilt Commodores on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at the LSU Soccer Stadium.
Just when it appeared the teams would play to a scoreless draw, Emerson found herself with possession of the ball at the top of the six-yard box following a cross into the area by fellow freshman Jade Kovacevic. Emerson composed herself and fired a strike past Commodore goalkeeper Alexa Levick for the Golden Goal at the 107:22 mark.
Emerson certainly made the most of her first action of the afternoon as she entered the game for the first time at the start of the second overtime period.
Emerson's first career goal was set up by a class 30-yard run to the end line through the Vanderbilt defense by Kovacevic as she served up her third assist of the season. Kovacevic is now tied for the club lead with fellow freshmen Fernanda Pina and Tori Sample as each has tallied three assists this season.
The freshman duo helped lead the Tigers (6-5-4, 2-4-2 SEC) to their first home victory in Southeastern Conference play this season while snapping a three-game SEC unbeaten streak by the Commodores (5-5-5, 2-2-4) entering Sunday's match. Vanderbilt has now played four-straight double overtime matches over the past two weekends.
"Brian (Lee) always tells us that every minute counts," Emerson said following the match. "He told me right before I went in to try to score a goal for us and win the game because I had fresh legs going in. Jade (Kovacevic) brought it down the line, and I just got into the box and kicked it in. Our team deserved to win this game today.
"Jade works her butt off the entire game. Her crosses are amazing. Right when I scored, I looked over at her because she gave it everything she had."
The Tigers turned up the pressure on the Commodore defense from the opening kick and nearly took a first-half lead through a pair of scoring efforts by senior midfielder Alex Ramsey.
Following Sample's long throw-in from the right sideline, Ramsey found herself in space in the right side of the area where she chested the ball down and fired a full volley from 12 yards that sailed inches past the left post for a Vanderbilt goal kick in the 16th minute. Ramsey then struck again in the 36th minute as she took a touch across the top of the box and fired a strike on frame that was saved by Levick leaping high into the air and off the crossbar for one of LSU's six corner kicks on the afternoon.
Junior goalkeeper Megan Kinneman was outstanding in goal once again while matching her career-high for a single-season with her sixth clean sheet of the year.
Kinneman organized an LSU defense that limited the Commodores to just one shot on goal on their 10 shot attempts during the match.
The Tigers turned in perhaps their best performance of the SEC season while dominating the final scoresheet with a 20-11 shot advantage and 6-1 edge in shots on goal. They also led the way with the 6-4 margin in corner kicks in nearly 108 minutes of action Sunday at the LSU Soccer Stadium.
"I thought that was the best soccer we've played all year," said LSU head coach Brian Lee. "The back four was outstanding today. The forwards worked really hard and created a number of chances for us to score goals today. I thought we showed a lot of perseverance and deserved to win the game today."
The Tigers will head back on the road in SEC play next weekend with a trip through the SEC East as they battle South Carolina at Stone Stadium in Columbia on Friday night at 6 p.m. CDT and Tennessee at Regal Soccer Stadium in Knoxville on Sunday, Oct. 14, at 1 p.m. They will then stay on the road with matches at Ole Miss on Friday, Oct. 19, and Missouri on Sunday, Oct. 21.