LSU Soccer vs South Carolina

LSU soccer head coach Sian Hudson interviews Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021 after LSU’s 4-0 win against South Carolina at the LSU Soccer Stadium in Baton Rouge, La

The LSU soccer team came into their final match of the regular season Thursday night with all the odds stacked against them and triumphed in a 4-2 victory over the No. 1 team in the SEC, the Arkansas Razorbacks.

“It was a spirited match from our team,” Head Coach Sian Hudson said. “It was a great effort from us to come from behind after the first goal, and I can’t tell you enough of how proud I am of the players. They played a fantastic game tonight, and this is a huge confidence boost heading into the SEC Tournament for us.”

The Tigers needed either a Texas A&M or Florida loss along with a win over the Razorbacks to punch their ticket into the SEC tournament. The Tigers have never beaten a top-five opponent in program history up until Thursday, and what a night to do it. 

Prior to the start of the match, all of the seniors who would be playing their final game in Baton Rouge were honored as part of Senior night. With around 1,200 fans in the stands, family members from all around the world in attendance supporting their loved ones, and the SEC tournament hanging in the balance, emotions were high. 

Two minutes into the match, Arkansas’ forward Parker Goins scored a volley that was crossed in from the right side of the box to give the Razorbacks an early 1-0 lead.

To add a little more fuel to the fire, both Texas A&M and Florida were finishing up their matches midway through the first half of LSU’s game. Both teams lost and set the stage for a win-or-go-home scenario for the Tigers. 

LSU’s forward Tinaya Alexander has been electric for the Tigers this season, and she did not disappoint in her final home match wearing purple and gold. Alexander’s shifty footwork drew a foul to the right of the Razorbacks box. Shannon Cooke headed the ball into the back of the net and equalized.

Nearing the end of the first half, the crowd was stomping their feet on the bleachers and chanting fight songs in hopes of the Tigers taking the lead heading into the second half. 

With a minute left to go, the ball reached Rammie Noel who weaved her way into the box and sent a shot in the left corner of the goal to give the Tigers a one-goal lead going into the break.

As LSU walked out onto the pitch in the second half, they understood that 45 minutes of soccer is the only thing that stood between them and a trip to Orange Beach.

When the second half whistle blew, neither side would give up an inch. Physical, SEC soccer was what the viewers saw for the duration of the match. 

The Tigers wasted little time giving themselves a two goal cushion as Alexander found the ball at her feet three minutes into the half and sent it into bottom left-corner.

In the 68th minute, Mollee Swift committed a costly mistake as she attempted to pass the ball out of the box. Arkansas’ Anna Podjil intercepted the pass and easily beat Swift to bring the match to 3-2. 

After the mistake, Mollee swiftly put the error behind her, and proved to be a brick wall for the extent of the game. For the last 20 minutes of the second half, the Tigers played most of their players back near LSU’s box allowing the Razorbacks to keep pressure on Swift.

As the final minutes of the match were winding down, Alexander was subbed back onto the pitch. Just like she has done all season, she beat the defender down the left-side of the field and worked her way into the box to beat the keeper. The crowd and LSU sidelines burst into celebration as the final goal of the match was put away.

After starting the season on an 11-game winning streak, and becoming the No. 5 team in the country, the Tigers had a disappointing SEC season. Despite the adversity, the team rallied together when it mattered and now have a chance to compete in the SEC tournament, and possibly the NCAA tournament as well.

Sports Columnist

Broadcast Journalism Major from New Orleans, Louisiana. LSU student, Sophomore

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