COLUMBIA, Mo. - Led by a trio of goal scorers in junior Nina Anderson, freshman Colby Maffei and freshman Tori Sample, the LSU Soccer team completed an SEC road sweep for the first time since 2009 with a 3-1 win over the 16th-ranked Missouri Tigers on Sunday afternoon at the Audrey J. Walton Soccer Stadium.
Sunday marked the inaugural meeting between the two sides on the pitch as LSU (8-7-4, 4-6-2 SEC) earned its first win over a nationally-ranked opponent this season with Missouri (13-5, 8-4) boasting an impressive No. 16 national ranking entering the contest.
It was also LSU's first win over a ranked opponent since a 1-0 shutout of the 13-ranked Florida Gators in Gainesville on Oct. 23 of last season.
More importantly, it gave the Tigers another three points in their pursuit of a postseason bid with the first round of the 2012 SEC Women's Soccer Tournament scheduled for Monday, Oct. 29. The Tigers claimed six points with an SEC road sweep for the first time since Oct. 2-4, 2009.
"Today was certainly one of the best games we've played all year as a team," said LSU head coach Brian Lee. "I thought all three goals today were quality. The first goal came out of good ball movement in the midfield, and we finished a couple of headers off crosses. Defensively, we fought as hard as we have all season."
Missouri struck first in the 24th minute when sophomore Kaysie Clark scored unassisted on a class run through the middle of the LSU defense.
After taking possession in the midfield, Clark made a run into the penalty area where she drew LSU's junior goalkeeper Megan Kinneman off her line to defend before finishing from about eight yards out for her third goal of the season. The home side took a 1-0 lead at the 23:12 mark.
It only took 25 seconds for LSU to respond as Sample scored the equalizer off the ensuing kickoff after receiving the ball down the right side. Sample played a floated ball into the area from 30 yards out down the right flank when it sailed over the head of Missouri goalkeeper McKenzie Sauerwein and into the top-left corner of the net for the tying goal.
Sample netted her second goal of the season at the 23:37 mark to tie the score at 1-1.
Freshman striker Colby Maffei then gave the Tigers a lead they would not relinquish with her third goal of the season in the 38th minute with a beautiful finish from the top of the six-yard box on a cross into the area by fellow freshman Fernanda Pina. After receiving a pass from junior Addie Eggleston on the right wing, Pina took a touch and curled a cross into the area as Maffei skied over a defender for the finish as she gave the visitors a 2-1 lead at the 37:22 mark.
Maffei's effort proved to be the winner as she scored the first game-winning goal of her collegiate career.
With LSU clinging to a one-goal advantage coming out of the halftime break, Anderson pushed the lead to 3-1 in the 64th minute with her first goal on the season as she buried a header from the left edge of the six-yard box on a free-kick service by freshman standout Jade Kovacevic at the 63:19 mark of the second half.
The LSU defense stood strong over the final 26 minutes, 41 seconds as the Tigers held onto their two-goal lead for the 3-1 victory.
LSU earned its first weekend sweep on the road in SEC play for the first time in three years when they defeated Alabama by a score of 3-0 on Oct. 2 and Auburn by a score of 2-0 on Oct. 4 during the 2009 season. The Tigers took down Ole Miss by a 3-2 margin in Oxford on Friday night.
With the win, the Tigers have moved into ninth place and are now in position to finish as high as eighth place in the SEC's regular season standings pending the results of Thursday's action.
The Tigers will now return home to wrap up the 2012 regular season as they play host to the surging Arkansas Razorbacks on Thursday night in a match that is set to kick off at 7 p.m. CT at the LSU Soccer Stadium. The Tigers own an eight-game winning streak over the Razorbacks heading into their regular-season finale.
"We know we have a lot of work to do to reach the SEC Tournament," Lee said in looking ahead to Thursday's regular-season finale with Arkansas. "Arkansas will be a great challenge for us on Thursday at our own stadium. Colby Hale has done a tremendous job of leading their team this season."