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Soccer Can Learn From Pied Piper

Despite 32 shots to their opponent’s 19, LSU loses twice.

Steve Franz,

LSU opened their home campaign after returning from the Charleston Classic with a resound 3-1 loss Thursday night against George Washington. LSU went down in the 11th minute when a rebound from a deflected cross was deposited into the net. Down a goal and playing a squad that was content to sit on their lead for as long as possible, LSU couldn’t find a way to connect the attack from midfield to the final third, leaving Jorian Baucom and Summer Clarke to their own devices up top. At the end of the day it would not matter as Brittany Cooper would lock up a second half brace to put George Washington up three to nil. Her first goal in the 47th minute was a spot of pure class, a screamer from about 25 yards out that would skip off the underside of the crossbar. Caroline Brockmeier tried her best to save it, but there are premiership keepers that would have struggled to deal with that shot. Cooper scored for a second time at the 75’ mark when she curled a shot from the edge of the box into the near side of the net.

Down three goals, LSU would finally cobble together an attack serious enough to produce an opportunity from open play. Five minutes from the death, Alex Thomas found junior Delaney Sheehan, who slotted home a 12 yard shot with her left foot. This goal was the product of LSU hammering away the kinks in their attack down three goals to nil. Most of LSU’s shots came by proxy of desperately giving the ball to Baucom and Clarke in the final third and hoping they could do something to add to the scoreline. This also explains George Washington’s lack of opportunities given that they were content to play back and park the bus, playing for counter attacks.

On Sunday against Colgate, Jorian Baucom took over. In the 67th minute she got tired of waiting for support and instead of crossing the ball from the right side of the box, she cut up herself and emulated her inner Fournette but dribbling over a Colgate defender. The back tried to recover and ended up taking Baucom down from behind, which resulted in a penalty that Baucom cooly converted.

That was to level the game after Eliza Doll fired a free kick from 19 yards out that beat Brockmeier to the back of the net in the 38th minute. Seven minutes after Baucom score, Abby Sotomayor got the goal to put Colgate ahead when she took a weighed pass from Ginny Whitman six yards from the face of goal and lifted it up just high enough to find net.

On Sunday, LSU didn’t have a problem with an attack besides their finishing. The Tigers fired 21 shots on Sunday, but only four required a save from Colgate keeper Kelly Chiavaro. The other 17 shots went over the crossbar, despite 14 or 15 coming from inside the box. LSU couldn’t go 5 minutes without a chance Sunday and yet their only goal didn’t come from open play (despite the penalty being drawn from a showcase in athleticism). Most of the chances for LSU came when they had numbers in the box after rebounds or loose balls. And that’s tough because there’s no real way to practice those kinds of situations besides actually experiencing them in a match situation and all the physicality that is associated with that.

And LSU’s defense isn’t that bad, but they’re not good enough to operate over such a low amount of goal cover. Both problems root from the youth and inexperience in the midfield. In order for LSU improve on the the ends of the pitch, they need to build the middle first. If you’ve watched Silicon Valley, it works a lot like Pied Piper’s compression idea: they have to work from the middle out.

LSU is away this week, playing Western Kentucky Thursday at 7 in Bowling Green and then traveling to Texas A&M Sunday at 6. The A&M game will be televised live on the SEC Network.