Yepez Leads Soccer to 7-2 Win Over Memphis

by (@LSUsports)
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Yepez Leads Soccer to 7-2 Win Over Memphis

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ? LSU standout Rachel Yepez led an offensive onslaught Thursday night with her first career hat trick as the Tigers knocked off Memphis, 7-2, in the first game of the 2007 Long’s Electronics Samford Classic at Bulldog Field.

LSU (3-0-0) extends its unbeaten streak to five games dating back to last season and improves its overall record to 1-2 against Memphis (2-1-0). This is the first time since 2004 that the Tigers have kicked off a season with a perfect 3-0 overall record.

“We’re obviously pleased to play well against a very quality opponent like Memphis,” said LSU head coach Brian Lee. “I feel like we’re deep and talented enough with attacking players that we can be very good when we move the ball around. This is just a step forward for our club as we try to get ready for SEC play in a few weeks.”

Yepez got the ball rolling for the Tigers in the 17th minute of the first half with her first goal of the season, finishing a through ball into the right side of the penalty area by junior Roslyn Jones with a strike past a diving goalkeeper inside the far post.

The Fayetteville, N.C., native added her second goal of the match in the 31st minute of play to give the Tigers a convincing 4-1 advantage at the break and completed the hat trick in the second half by converting a penalty kick in the 76th minute.

Yepez becomes the first Tiger to score a hat trick since teammate and fellow sophomore Michelle Makasini accomplished the feat in LSU’s 3-0 shutout of South Alabama on Sept. 15, 2006.

“We played an outstanding game tonight, and I thought we were relentless through the final whistle,” Yepez said. “I’ve spent a lot of time watching film and talking to the coaches, and I get myself into trouble when I hold the ball too long and take to many dribbles. I did a better job of dropping it off to the midfield and opening it up for my teammates.”

Sophomore Malorie Rutledge pushed the LSU lead to 2-0 in the 17th minute with her second goal of the season, gathering a pass from Jones and rifling a shot past the keeper from 35 yards out. Jones followed with her second goal of the season at the 30:21 mark of the first half by ripping a strike off of a Memphis defender and into the back of the net unassisted.

Yepez’s second goal of the match at the 30:35 mark tied an LSU record for the fastest two goals scored in team history, equaling the effort of former Tigers Ashley Mitnick and Rachel Cohen in an SEC West showdown against Alabama on Oct. 13, 2000.

“We did something tonight that we did not do as well in our first two games, and that is finishing our chances,” Lee said. “Our serves were much better and our ball movement gave us some great opportunities to put some goals on the board in the flow of play. That’s how we want to play.”

Makasini added a pair of goals just seven minutes apart in the second half as she finished a pair of brilliant crosses from Rutledge while sprinting through the center of the penalty area.

Rutledge was allowed to run free down the right wing each time and served a pair of crosses into the box to a streaking Makasini, who finished with a header into the upper 90 in the 53rd minute followed by a blast into the left side of the net in the 60th minute. The Euless, Texas, native is tied for the team lead with three goals on the season.

The Tigers were nearly flawless on the offensive end as they finished the match with 14 shots and a whopping 10 shots on goal, while Memphis was credited with 12 shots and seven shots on goal for the night. LSU also held a slight 6-5 advantage on corner kicks.

Forwards Melissa Smith and Kylie Hayes provided the offensive spark for Memphis with goals in the 37th and 58th minutes of play. Smith tallied her third goal of the young season by converting a penalty kick, while Hayes punched a header into the net for her first goal of the campaign.

The Tigers return to the pitch on Saturday at the Samford Classic as they take on the regionally-ranked Miami Hurricanes in a match scheduled for 5 p.m. The Hurricanes enter the match ranked No. 12 in the Southeast Region in the latest regional poll released by Soccer Buzz Magazine.