Like I said before, my milieu this Fall will be covering the LSU Soccer team. I am knowledgeable about soccer, but haven't actually watched LSU soccer before, but with a 6-year-old daughter who needs some role models, spending a few nights at the soccer complex watching some fierce young women compete like hell seems like a good use of time. And heck, I can write about the experience for you guys.
So what use can I be right now, knowing very little about the actual team. Last year, they were only OK. This year, they're expected to be pretty solid. That's because of a stellar recruiting class that is expected to immediately improve the team.
But surely the team that is there is a group of proud athletes who aren't very interested in handing over the team to a bunch of people who recently went to prom. So what is there?
The team returns its top two goal-scorers from last year in Fernanda Pina and Alex Arlitt, two midfielders who scored four goals each. Those weren't great totals for leading scorers, but I think it's reasonable to expect improvement from Pina, who was just a freshman and a part-time starter last year. It's safe to guess that more may be expected of her this season, and an influx of offensive talent from the recruiting class could convert this team from one which didn't pack much offensive punch to a true threat to score.
Other key veterans returning include more defensive minded players like senior goalkeeper Megan Kinneman, central defender Jodi Calloway who started all 21 games last year as a sophomore, midfielder Heather Magee, and senior combo-defender/midfielder Alex Ramsey, and senior defender Nina Anderson.
This was a solid defensive team, and it looks like most of the heart of the defense returns, including a very solid goalkeeper in Megan Kinneman, who made 117 saves last year and scored two goals on penalty kicks. Defense was not this team's problem last year, but there will be young players trying to make it even better, as two players with international experience join the squad. Rebecca Pongetti was a full-time starter for Canada's U-17 squad in the World Cup in 2012. Megan Lee has 15 caps from the New Zealand U-17 squad, including World Cup experience, and was invited to train with the big national team.
I don't know what kind of formation the team uses, but the competition at forward should be interesting. Summer Clark and Natalia Gomez-Junco are both newcomers, with Clark having international experience with the Canadian National Team (Pongetti's teammate) and Gomez-Junco being a junior transfer from University of Memphis, where she was a high scorer on a pretty good team. Gomez-Junco was a member of Mexico's U-17 squad. Those two could add a lot of punch to a team that was sort of punchless last year.
So there is a lot to be excited about here. The first match is an exhibition against Nicholls State on Friday at 7:00pm. Tickets are free.