BATON ROUGE – Junior striker Nicole Howard pulled one back for the Tigers with her first goal of the season in the 54th minute of the second half, but the visiting Volunteers took home the points in the end as LSU dropped a 3-1 decision to Tennessee in Thursday’s Southeastern Conference clash at the LSU Soccer Stadium.
With the Tigers (6-8, 1-5 SEC) trailing 3-0 after 50 minutes, Howard split the Tennessee (8-6, 3-3) defense and chipped goalkeeper Shae Yanez from the penalty spot to bring the deficit back to two goals with 36 minutes to play in the match. Yanez got a hand to Howard’s effort that pinged off the left post and found the net at the 53:25 mark of the second half.
Fellow senior Megan Lee nearly pulled another goal back for the Tigers in the 59th minute when Clarke played her into space in the left side of the area for a left-footed drive that skipped just inches wide of the post to remain at 3-1. Clarke nearly got in on the act herself in the 73rd minute with a weaving run between two defenders at the top of the box for a strike at goal that was palmed away by Yanez.
Clarke and Lee led the LSU attack for much of the night as each finished with a team-leaidng three shot attempts, including two shots on goal for Clarke and one for Lee.
The Volunteers nearly paid the price for an errant back pass that was mishandled by a defender and claimed by junior Jorian Baucom in the 77th minute, but LSU’s All-SEC striker fired just high of the crossbar 10 yards in front of goal with Yanez closing down the space. The match even ended with junior Zoe Higgins striking the crossbar from distance with just three seconds remaining before the full-time whistle.
Former First-Team All-SEC striker Hannah Wilkinson gave the Volunteers an early 1-0 lead in the eighth minute of play when she finished the rebound from inside the six-yard box after Carlyn Baldwin’s initial shot from the top of the box was saved. Baldwin found the scoresheet herself before halftime with a header from eight yards off Meghan Flynn’s cross in the 43rd minute.
Tennessee’s lead was trebled at the 50:42 mark with a header from junior midfielder Michele Christy, who was substituted just 73 seconds later with an apparent non-contact knee injury that ended her night.
With the win, the Volunteers snapped a four-game winless streak in Baton Rouge as they earned their first three points at the LSU Soccer Complex nearly 11 years ago with a 2-0 win on Oct. 9, 2005. The Tigers piled up a 3-0-1 mark in the four subsequent matches played in Baton Rouge between the two sides before Thursday’s defeat.
The Tigers are back in action on Sunday afternoon as they make the trip to the Turner Soccer Complex in Athens, Georgia, for a match against the Georgia Bulldogs that is set to kick off at 1 p.m. CT. They will be back on the road in SEC play next weekend with a trip to Starkville, Mississippi, on Oct. 14 against Mississippi State that is scheduled for a 7 p.m. kickoff at the MSU Soccer Field.