Dominating defense is all the rage in LSU athletics.
The LSU men’s soccer club has posted an impressive 6-0 record while not conceding a single goal to its opponents this season, and the club’s new strategy may have something to do with that.
Senior defender June No, who is also captain of the club, said the club’s dominance could be a result of a formation change.
“In the past, we relied on the 4-4-2 formation, but this season we are mainly using the 4-5-1 formation,” No said. “The biggest reason is because we have a lot of talented central midfielders and we wanted to have them on the field at the same time as much as possible.”
The LSU offense has also employed a tricky strategy this season.
The Tigers use their multiple midfielders to play the “tiki taka” style of offense, a trendy brand of soccer predicated on maintaining possession and eventually finding the gaps in the opposing defense. The Spanish national team also uses this style.
The Tigers average more than two-and-a-half goals per game, with eight players finding the back of the net this year.
But the most impressive aspect of the Tigers’ game is their suffocating defense.
“[It is] a combination of good defending and goalkeeping, along with the team controlling the overall tempo of the match,” said junior goalkeeper Jordan Williams. “We control much of the possession during the game and spend much of that time in the middle and attacking thirds of the field.”
Players credit their balance, chemistry and communication as reasons for their success on defense. Senior Jayson Stewart, the starting goalie, used to play Division III soccer at Louisiana College in Pineville, La., and was figured to be a standout player on the squad.
But with such a stifling defense in front of him, Stewart has seen relatively little action.
“Honestly, our keepers haven’t been tested much, but they are always competing to start in practice,” said senior defender James Dobravolsky. “Our defense is so good, [the goalies] get bored during the games, so practice is their time to shine.”
The club’s next match is Sunday when it travels to the University of Houston. The Tigers will compete in the Region IV Tournament the following week, having already achieved an automatic berth by winning the Louisiana Conference. Should they win the region, they will advance to the National Campus Championship Series.
Last year, the Tigers did not qualify for the regionals, even as a one-loss team. No and the other veterans on the squad understand the importance of finishing the season with strong performances.
“I just want our team to not lose focus and compete with the same intensity that they have [had] so far,” No said. “Every opponent, whether weak or strong, will be respected, and we will give our best effort to have a good game and get the win.”