LSU's soccer team won its exhibition match against Nicholls State 4-1, as the new look Tigers showed scoring punch that was lacking last year. In particular, newcomer Summer Clark looked really impressive, scoring a goal and setting up another, and nearly netting a couple other goals. In particular, her first assist of the night was a tremendous individual effort that set up fellow freshman forward Emma Fletcher with a point blank shot into an empty net.
The ball spent most of the time on the Nicholls State defensive half of the field. LSU was clearly the better team the entire night, racking up 11 shots on goal while giving up only a single shot on goal. If not for a gutty performance by the Nicholls State goalkeeper who stopped a couple breakaways and other very good scoring chances, score could have been even more lopsided.
The lone goal scored by Nicholls State, on its only shot on goal of the night, came following defensive lapses in the LSU box, where several players appeared to have an opportunity to put a foot on the ball to clear it from the scoring zone, only to see the ball trickle out to a Nicholls player who had an opportunity to shoot from close range into an empty net. There was nothing LSU goalkeeper Megan Kinneman could do except hope the player missed.
It wasn't all good news, because Megan Lee, one of the heralded group of 5 recruits added to the team, was carried off the field after just a few minutes, after a Nicholls State player rolled up her leg from behind. She had started the game as a left back. In a game where there were free substitutions, she did not come back into the game after being carried off. It appears the injury may be pretty serious. In her absence, there were several defensive lapses, including one that led to the goal.
But the most important thing to talk about is just how much fun the game was.
Little Miss ATVS and I arrived a few minutes before 7:00pm and we parked within easy walking distance of the entrance to the soccer complex. The crowd was bigger than expected, probably because Nicholls State brought a surprisingly large number of fans to the game. I would guess there were about 1000 people there. Everyone sat on one side of the field, opposite from the player's benches.
A girl who appeared to be five or six years old sang the national anthem and hit all the high notes with aplomb. The weather was comfortable, the atmosphere friendly.
There were a lot of children present, and Little Miss ATVS spent her time going back and forth between paying attention to the game and running around where the kids were playing. The PA played music before the game and during halftime, and yelled "GOAAAALLLL!" when LSU scored, in a way that was clearly a parody of the Spanish-speaking announcer who is so popular, but didn't overplay it.
The LSU uniforms were white with purple stripes, with yellow numbers on the backs of the jerseys. It was difficult to read the numbers except for the players closest to me. One player who spent a good part of the night close to where I sat was Fernanda Pina, a sophomore midfielder who was the co-leading scorer for LSU last year, and was very good in this game as well. She played an active attacking wing position in the first half, trying to find angles to attack the streak to the goal and receive passes. She did not score a goal, but rang one off the post, and was stopped on a partial breakaway in the second half. She was substituted in and out of the game somewhat regularly.
It looks like the coaches have experimented with the lineup somewhat. Jodi Calloway was described as a central defender, but spent much of the game playing forward. She is a nifty ball handler. When she got the ball on he foot, she was adept at spinning it away from defenders and finding space. She got a goal in a good individual effort that highlighted her terrific ball control. Other players who historically have played defensive roles were tried at attacking positions, including senior Emily Cancienne, who subbed in as either a forward or an attacking midfielder and scored the first goal of her career after forcing a turnover in the Nicholls State defensive half of the field and rushing in to get a shot off that found the back of the net.
After the game, the players came to the stands to meet and talk to fans. Little Miss ATVS got a picture with Emily Cancienne.
Next Friday, LSU has its first game that counts, against Louisiana Tech at 7:00pm at the soccer complex. I would suggest getting out there. It's easy to get to a game. Parking is not a problem (it remains to be seen what happens when football season starts and the tailgaters descend on the campus). Attendance is free. You can see Tiger Stadium from the stands, and the players really appreciate the fans.