BATON ROUGE – The no. The 8-seeded LSU soccer team was victorious on Friday night as it defeated the Lamar Cardinals, 3-1, inside LSU Soccer Stadium to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the 32nd minute when midfielder Ida Hermannsdottir marked her return from injury with a goal and she put the ball into an open net. The lead was doubled eight minutes later when goalkeeper Mollee Swift stepped up to the penalty spot and fired a shot into the left corner.
LSU’s third and final goal came in the 64th minute when midfielder Brenna McPartlan scored with a header from six yards out. Lamar hit back in the 81st minute when Christine Kitaru beat Swift one-on-one with a back-roll into the bottom right corner.
“I’m just really happy. What a team performance,” said head coach Sian Hudson. “It was a professional performance. We controlled the ball very well and scored three great goals. Overall we were the better side for most of the game. Lamar tested us in the first 20 minutes or so and forced us to make some early tactical changes but after that we caught up with the ball and were comfortable and created various opportunities from that point on.”
The game started with both teams having an early look at the goal. Cariel Ellis had a shot on goal in the 7th minute that Swift calmly collected on his first possession of the night. Seconds later at the other end, Hermannsdóttir tried Lamar’s Nicole Panis with a shot from long range that had to be saved. Panis made her second save just a minute later when she stopped Mollie Baker’s shot from goal.
After battling in the middle all half, LSU found the back of the net in the 32nd minute. Striker Angelina Thoreson sent a cross down the right wing to Baker. Baker picked up the ball and outran his defender before darting into the box and sending a ground ball across the goal to Hermannsdóttir who fired it into an open net. Hermannsdóttir’s mark was the team’s seventh of the season for the freshman, who missed LSU’s last two games with an injury. For the Creators, Baker had his sixth assist of the season while Thoreson, the team’s assist leader, was tied for eighth on the year.
Momentum swung LSU’s way and the Tigers didn’t look back the rest of the way. In the 40th minute, forward Taylor Dobles was fouled in the box by a Cardinal defender and the referee signaled the penalty. Swift ran across the field and grabbed the ball before stepping up to the penalty spot. The LSU goaltender sent a powerful shot into the left corner, giving Ellis, who guessed the right way, a 2-0 lead. The goal is Swift’s first of the season and her second of her career after scoring on a penalty kick at Kentucky last season. The goal was the last major event of the first half and the Tigers went into halftime.
LSU opened the second half in control of the game and remained on the offensive footing. Alesia Garcia had a shot narrowly wide in the 48th minute and Baker tested Panis in the 51st minute with a shot against the post. Lamar’s Laura Linares tested Swift in the 59th minute with a powerful shot from outside the box, but it was saved by the extended keeper to keep the Cardinals scoreless.
The lead became 3-0 in the 64th minute when defender Olivia Wilkes sent a perfect free-kick just outside the box to McPartlan, who curled his header under the crossbar and into the goal. McPartlan’s goal was her second goal of the season while Wilkes’ assist was her first as a Tiger.
Despite the lead, the Tigers continued their offensive attack, using shots on goal in the 74th, 75th, 78th, 80th and 82nd minutes. Panis finished the night with 10 saves, a season high for a Lamar Cardinal who has given up two or more goals in a game just twice this season.
Against the run of play, Lamar scored a goal in the 81st minute. Kitaru released a Tiger defender in the middle and broke through the goal. She squared off with Swift and fired a shot on the ground from 15 yards out past the oncoming keeper and into the net.
In the final seconds of the game, Lamar was penalized for a foul in the box. Kitaru stepped up for Lamar to take the penalty, but her shot to the right of the goal was saved by Swift who dipped to keep the game 3-1 as time expired. The save was Swift’s third and last of the night.
LSU outshot Lamar 22-6, as the Tigers had 13 shots on goal compared to the Cardinals’ four. In the possession battle, LSU was 61% to Lamar’s 39%. After an even start to the first half, the Tigers struck first and never looked back as they dominated the rest of the game.
The win marks LSU’s third NCAA Tournament win in program history and first under head coach Sian Hudson. The three goals are the second most in a single NCAA Tournament game for LSU, trailing only LSU’s 7-0 win over Arkansas-Pine Bluff in 2009.
LSU heads to Tallahassee, Florida to host the Florida State Seminoles in the second round next weekend. Information about the upcoming game.