Tigers Soccer Gets SEC Test Against Gators
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The LSU soccer team will attempt to open Southeastern Conference play with a 3-0 record for the first time in its eight years of existence on Friday, as the Tigers challenge the defending conference champion Florida Gators at 6 p.m. here in Gainesville, Fla.
“This game is going to be a battle,” said LSU head coach George Fotopoulos. “It’s going to be a tough war just like the Mississippi games were last weekend and we’re going to have to continue to work hard and play some of our best soccer. We’ve been playing well lately, but we’re still unproven in that we haven’t shown that we can play with the best teams on a consistent basis.”
LSU heads into Friday’s matchup with an overall record of 10-1 and a 2-0 conference mark. Last week, the Tigers extended their winning streak to nine games with victories over Western Division rivals Ole Miss, 2-1, and Mississippi State, 3-1. LSU’s nine-match winning streak is the longest in school history.
The Tigers’ lone loss of the season came on Sept. 6, against the 23rd-ranked Miami Hurricanes at the Seminole Invitational in Tallahassee, Fla. Despite the 1-0 loss to Miami, LSU is off to its best start in school history and is only the fourth Tiger team to record 10 wins in a season.
Florida comes into Friday’s game with a 4-7-1 overall record and a 1-2 mark in conference play. In the Gators’ three SEC contests, the six-time defending champions, were defeated by South Carolina, 1-0 (OT), beat Vanderbilt, 3-0, and lost to Kentucky, 3-0. Prior to this season, Florida had never been defeated twice in conference play.
“Florida has played one of the toughest schedules in the nation so far,” Fotopoulos said. “Their record is not indicative of what kind of team they are, because they’ve played the nation’s best teams week in and week out. They are still one of the best teams in the country and they have one of the best coaches in all of soccer.”
Florida owns a decisive 4-0 lead in the all-time series between the two SEC rivals. The teams have played twice in Baton Rouge, La., and twice at the Percy Beard Soccer Stadium in Gainesville, Fla., with the Gators winning each contest by an average score of 7-0. Last season, Florida posted a 3-0 win over the Tigers at the LSU Soccer Complex.
LSU starters Danielle Keath and Melissa Shelton are still listed as day-to-day after sustaining leg injuries in the Tigers’ physical contest against Ole Miss last Friday. The pair was forced to sit out of LSU’s decisive win over Mississippi State on Sunday and will be game-time decisions against Florida.
The LSU soccer team will attempt to remain undefeated on the road this season as the Tigers face the Florida Gators at 6 p.m. at the Percy Beard Stadium here in Gainesville, Fla.