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No. 6 BYU Hands Soccer First Loss, 4-2

by Will Stafford (@WillStaffordLSU)
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No. 6 BYU Hands Soccer First Loss, 4-2

BATON ROUGE – Sophomore midfielder Fernanda Pina and freshman striker Summer Clarke each scored goals to give the Tigers a first-half lead, but that was not enough over the course of 90 minutes as the 25th-ranked LSU Soccer team dropped a 4-2 decision to the No. 6-ranked BYU Cougars on Monday night at the LSU Soccer Stadium.

The Tigers (2-1-1) saw their five-game home unbeaten streak snapped and suffered their first defeat to the Cougars (3-0) as the visitors leveled the series at 1-1-1 all-time.

Monday’s match marked the end of a four-game homestand for the Tigers to open the 2013 season as they drew more than 1,000 fans for the fourth-straight time with 1,129 supporters on hand for the contest.

Pina brought the home crowd to its feet in the 21st minute when she scored her team-leading third goal of the season following a class run and service into the box by junior defender Alex Arlitt. With Arlitt beating the BYU right back to the end line and cutting back into the penalty area, Pina found herself alone at the top of the six-yard box to finish Arlitt’s centering pass to give the Tigers a 1-0 lead at the 20:34 mark.

But the Cougars struck back just over three minutes later, and only 41 seconds coming out of a television timeout, when Colette Jepson-Smith buried the rebound at the top of the six-yard box on an initial shot coming from Michele Murphy that was saved by LSU’s senior goalkeeper Megan Kinneman. Jepson-Smith found the back of the net in the 24th minute to draw BYU level at 1-1.

The Tigers found themselves in front once again in the 33rd minute when Clarke netted her second goal of the season on a brilliant left-footed strike inside the right post while streaking across the top of the area.

Freshman Emma Fletcher took possession in the midfield and hit senior defender Addie Eggleston in stride with a diagonal ball over the top of the Cougar back line beyond the right side of the box. Eggleston then saw Clarke in space to her left and played a square ball to the Canadian international for a cracker inside the right post past a diving Erica Owens in goal for the Cougars at the 32:01 mark.

LSU’s 2-1 lead was short-lived as the Cougars again struck quickly in the 34th minute when Ashley Hatch sprung free in LSU’s defensive third and found herself one-on-one with Kinneman following a run inside the right side of the penalty area. Hatch’s shot found the back of the net inside the far post to level the score once again at 2-2 before the halftime break.

The Cougars kept up the offensive pressure in the second half and match their first-half output with goals by Rachel Manning in the 68th minute and Paige Hunt in the 83rd minute to claim a 4-2 victory.

With their four-game homestand now in the books, the Tigers will go on the road for the first time in 2013 this weekend with a trip to Minneapolis, Minn., to compete at the Minnesota Gold Classic event. They will face Minnesota on Friday night at 7 p.m. CT before wrapping up the event against 13th-ranked Southern California on Sunday at 11 a.m.