MINNEAPOLIS – Senior goalkeeper Megan Kinneman turned in one of the performances of her career while making seven saves in goal and burying the deciding penalty kick in the 65th minute of play as the LSU Soccer team knocked off previously unbeaten and 13th-ranked Southern California by a score of 1-0 on Sunday afternoon.
The Tigers (3-2-1) snapped a two-game losing skid with their first signature win of the 2013 season while wrapping up the Minnesota Gold Classic at Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium.
It marked the inaugural meeting between the Tigers and Trojans (3-1-1) on the pitch as LSU handed USC its first defeat of the season while earning its seventh win over a ranked opponent in program history. LSU took home its first victory over a nationally-ranked opponent since claiming a 3-1 road win at 16th-ranked Missouri on Oct. 21 of last season.
The Tigers boast an impressive record of success against nationally-ranked opponents in their nine seasons under Brian Lee as they now own seven wins and nine draws against Top 25 teams in his tenure.
“It’s a big win for our team, but it really came from a great effort collectively to fight for 90 minutes and work for a result,” Lee said following the match. “It was a key for us to stay composed and organized defensively, but I also thought we created some chances for ourselves to give us a chance to win. The PK came directly from the kind of attack we like to create going forward. But certainly it’s a big win for our program.”
Kinneman made her presence felt early an often while directing a valiant defensive effort by the Tigers throughout the 90 minutes of Sunday’s contest.
The Trojans threatened to take the lead midway through the first half, but Kinneman denied the Trojans with a series of three saves on strikes by midfielder Haley Boysen in the 22nd minute, midfielder Jordan Marada in the 24th minute and striker Katie Johnson in the 25th minute of play. Johnson had perhaps the best opportunity to put the Trojans on the scoreboard when she flicked a header on frame from inside the six-yard area, but Kinneman’s reaction save preserved the draw as the clock ticked down in the opening frame.
The tide turned in favor of the Tigers in the 28th minute when Marada was sent off on a foul away from the ball as Kinneman was preparing to deliver a goal kick. That infraction gave the Tigers an advantage, and forced the Trojans to play with 10 players on the field for the remaining 62 minutes of the match following the red card.
Kinneman made five saves on eight shots by the Trojans in the first half as the score remained level at 0-0 after the first 45 minutes of action.
The Tigers turned up the pressure to start the second half while creating their best scoring opportunity in the run of play in the 50th minute on a combination play between freshmen Emma Fletcher and Summer Clarke in attack. Fletcher played Clarke in behind the USC back line, but Clarke’s breakaway shot was forced wide of the right post as Trojan goalkeeper Caroline Stanley did not hesitate in coming off her line to defend.
But the deadlock would only last another 15 minutes as the Tigers were awarded a penalty kick in the 65th minute when senior defender Addie Eggleston was taken down in the right side of the box by Stanley. After an outstanding service was played by Fletcher over the top of the USC defense, Eggleston beat Stanley to the ball and was fouled as the referee pointed to the penalty spot.
Kinneman trotted out from her own goal to take the penalty and buried the 12-yard strike past Stanley for her third career goal to give the Tigers a narrow 1-0 lead at the 64:03 mark of the second half.
Kinneman also scored two penalty kicks for the Tigers during her junior season a year ago, including a 2-1 double overtime defeat to 18th-ranked Kentucky on Sept. 23 and the game-winning Golden Goal in a 3-2 victory in overtime at Ole Miss on Oct. 19 of the 2012 season. She continues to add to her tally with three goals as the top scoring goalkeeper in the program’s history.
“I always come into a game with a plan and know which way I’m going to shoot in case I get that chance,” Kinneman said of her approach to the penalty kick. “Their keeper was jumping around and trying to distract me, but that doesn’t really affect me when I’m standing at the spot. I’ve been on the other side of that myself.”
The Trojans only played three defenders at the back over the final 20 minutes of the contest as they pressed for the equalizer to force overtime in the first of two Sunday matches at the Minnesota Gold Classic.
LSU’s defense stood tall and kept the Trojans off the scoreboard to preserve the 1-0 victory. Leading their efforts in the final moments were Eggleston, junior Alex Arlitt, sophomore Tori Sample and freshman Rebecca Pongetti on the back line; Fletcher, senior Alex Ramsey, junior Jodi Calloway and sophomores Gracie Campbell and Heather Magee in the midfield and Clarke patrolling the front line.
Kinneman talked about LSU’s defensive effort down the stretch that proved crucial in the team earning its first signature victory of the 2013 season.
“At the end of the game, you always know a team is going to press when they’re down,” Kinneman said. “I thought we stayed very composed and very disciplined back there to defend what they were throwing at us. I’m very proud of how we fought today to get the win. Continuing to do that is what is important for us now going forward. We couldn’t be any more proud with how we bounced back from Friday’s game.”
The Tigers will wrap up their non-conference season next weekend with a road trip through the state of Texas as they head to Nacogdoches on Friday to face Stephen F. Austin at 7 p.m. CT before then making the trip to Houston on Sunday, Sept. 15, to battle Rice at 1 p.m. They will then open up the Southeastern Conference season with a trip to Nashville, Tenn., on Saturday, Sept. 21, as they battle the Vanderbilt Commodores in a final match of a five-game road swing entering the league slate.