BATON ROUGE – Striker Jorian Baucom found the back of the net just 48 seconds into her collegiate debut and midfielder Natalia Gomez-Junco added her first goal as an LSU Tiger in the 59th minute of the second half to lead the home side to a 2-0 shutout of the Troy Trojans in their opening match of the 2014 season at the LSU Soccer Stadium.
With the contest barely a minute old, LSU’s left back Gracie Campbell found herself in possession inside the Troy half and played the ball to Fernanda Pina in space in the right side of the penalty area.
Pina picked up her head, took one touch and curled a right-footed cross into the middle of the area where Baucom battled a Trojan defender for position. Baucom gained the advantage and redirected Pina’s cross just beyond the outstretched arms of Troy goalkeeper Mikki Lewis and inside the right post for the breakthrough goal of the 2014 season just 48 seconds into the campaign.
It was the fastest goal scored by an LSU Tiger to start a season as Baucom’s first-minute strike was quicker than the goal scored by Joleen Phillips just 1 minute, 8 seconds into LSU’s 2005 opener against Oregon State.
“It doesn’t get any better than that for a start,” said LSU head coach Brian Lee of Baucom’s opening goal in the first minute of the match. “That’s exciting, for sure. We think we can attack in a lot of different ways with a lot of different people. Emma Fletcher and Summer Clarke are proven, top-notch, attacking players, and we think Jorian (Baucom) and Natalia (Gomez-Junco) can do the same.
“Fernanda (Pina) I thought had a great preseason campaign, and she keeps getting better every year with us. She can chip in as well. The big thing with the new players, we’re going to score plenty of goals. We’ve got so many new players on the back line and playing in the center of midfield that it’s just going to take us a little time to get coordinated on it, but they all make a big, big difference for us.”
After taking their 1-0 lead into the break, the Tigers started quickly in the second half and Gomez-Junco doubled their advantage in the 59th minute when opened her account with her first goal as a Tiger on her debut.
The ball popped out to Gomez-Junco in position beyond the penalty area and she fired home from distance under the heavy pressure of one of Troy’s center backs who was closing to defend. Gomez-Junco had found the net for the first time in an LSU uniform, but her celebration was muted as she lay on the pitch recovering from the challenge of a charging Trojan defender.
A native of Monterrey, Mexico, Gomez-Junco has now scored 11 goals during her collegiate career as she netted 10 times in two seasons playing for the University of Memphis in 2011 and 2012.
“I think she blocked it, and kind of tackled me a little bit, so I didn’t see my first goal,” Gomez-Junco said as she recalled her first goal as an LSU Tiger. “I’m just happy to score and that we won the game. Every game for us at the college level is physical and really athletic. We were good, solid. There’s some things we have to work on, but for being our first game, we stayed composed all the way around.”
Less than a week after leading New Zealand into the quarterfinals of the FIFA Under-20 Women’s World Cup, rookie goalkeeper Lily Alfeld saved each of Troy’s three shots on target and kept a clean sheet in her debut in goal for the Tigers as she looks to help lead a young defense this season.
Alfeld joins the collegiate ranks as one of the top young goalkeeping prospects in world football as she also kept two clean sheets in four starts for New Zealand at the FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup this month.
“I thought Lily was fantastic,” said Alex Arlitt, the lone senior this season. “She’s only been with us for a couple of days, and just kind of got thrown into the mix. She did great. She took charge of the back line and made some really big saves for us tonight. Half of winning the game for us was her performance in goal tonight.”
Nine of the 16 players that Lee deployed in LSU’s season-opening win over Troy made their debuts with the Tigers as Alfeld, Baucom and Gomez-Junco were joined on the field by midfielders Kristen Pavlick, Christyna Pitre and Madeline Ramsey and defenders Jordane Carvery, Emma Meckfessel and Alexis Urch.
Also seeing action in the victory were All-SEC striker Summer Clarke and Lexi Gibbs on the front line, All-SEC performer Emma Fletcher in midfield and both Alex Arlitt and Tori Sample in defense on the back line.
The Tigers (1-0) opened their third-straight season with a victory as they also ran their record to a perfect 3-0 all-time against Troy (0-1) in a series that dates back to their 2000 season opener. It also marked a third year in a row in which LSU opened the campaign with a shutout as they also blanked Oklahoma in 2012 and Louisiana Tech in 2013 by matching 1-0 scorelines.
With a season-opening win under their belt, the Tigers will look to make it two in a row to open the 2014 campaign when they play host to the Northwestern State Demons on Friday, Aug. 29, with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m. CT at the LSU Soccer Stadium. They later continue their four-game homestand to open the season with match against Rice on Sunday, Aug. 31, at 6 p.m. and Nicholls on Tuesday, Sept. 2, at 7 p.m.
LSU Soccer vs. Troy
August 22, 2014
HEAD COACH BRIAN LEE
On winning the season opener …
“It doesn't get any better than that for a start.”
On the number of newcomers earning time on the field …
“I think at times they played like freshmen, and at times they played like really polished, good players. A lot of it was to be expected with not just the freshmen but the transfers coming out for the first game. Natalia (Gomez-Junco), even though she had been with us for 18 months, this was her first real game for LSU, so at times there were eight kids who had never played in a real game here. I thought it was really choppy at times. We didn't look as smooth as we will later in the season, but it was a good start.
On defensive communication …
“I thought it was OK. One of the things with the start of the season, especially when you don't play an exhibition game, is just the coordination and communication in the back line. It'll get a whole lot better, and when it did break down, Lily (Alfeld) bailed us out. I thought she had a fantastic debut in goal.”
On both goals being scored by new players …
“Well that's exciting, for sure. We think we can attack in a lot of different ways with a lot of different people. Emma Fletcher and Summer Clarke are proven top-notch, attacking players, and we think Jorian (Baucom) and Natalia (Gomez-Junco) can do the same. Fernanda (Pina) I thought had a great preseason campaign, and she keeps getting better every year with us. She (Pina) can chip in as well. The big thing with the new players, we're going to score plenty of goals. We've got so many new players on the back line and playing in the center of midfield that it's just going to take us a little time to get coordinated on it, but they'll make a big, big difference for us.”
On the physicality of tonight's game …
“It was opening night, and both teams were excited. There were probably a few too many tackles from behind in the game, but I thought the referee did a very good job of handling it and keeping it under control. Actually, I thought he did an excellent job tonight because that can take a major turn for the worse with a referee not doing as good of a job as he did.”
MIDFIELDER ALEX ARLITT
On tonight's season opener …
“We couldn't have asked to start off the game in a better way. Being able to put a goal up on the board that early is a big accomplishment, especially with having a brand new team. This is the first game we've played together. I thought it was a great way to open the game, and we just kind of kept pressing from there. It was a good win tonight.”
On Lily Alfeld's goalkeeping …
“I thought Lily was fantastic. She's only been with us for a couple of days, and just kind of got thrown into the mix. She did great. She took charge of the back line and made some really big saves for us tonight. Half of winning the game for us was her performance in goal tonight.”
On the team's takeaways from tonight's game …
“I think the biggest takeaway from tonight is just take the momentum we have here and keep going with it. It was a good performance. We have a lot of positive things to take from this game. We also have some things we need to clean up, obviously, but I think the biggest thing is taking this momentum into next week and keep pushing for another win.”
MIDFIELDER NATALIA GOMEZ-JUNCO
On her first goal as an LSU Tiger …
“I think she blocked it, and kind of tackled me a little bit, so I didn't see my first goal. I'm just happy to score and that we won the game.”
On so many newcomers seeing their first action for LSU …
“I think they performed very well. It's not easy to play at this level, they all played well, and I'm happy that they helped the team.”
On the physicality of tonight's match …
“Every game for us at the college level is physical and really athletic. We were good, solid. There's some things we have to work on, but for being our first game, we stayed composed all the way around.”
STRIKER SUMMER CLARKE
On the early goal helping to settle the team down to start the match …
“Yeah, oh definitely, I think it calmed us down. Sometimes at the start of a game, it's easy to be frantic or fast-paced, but the early goal definitely helped up us settle ourselves down.”
On coming away with a win in their season opener …
“It was great to come out with a win. I thought we worked really hard to get it tonight.”