When sophomore forward Jorian Baucom played an impressive one-touch back heel pass that led to a goal for junior forward Summer Clarke in LSU’s first preseason game of the season, it was evident that the Arizona native’s work over the summer paid off.
“She’s a new player now, it seems like,” said senior midfielder Heather Magee.
Baucom was one of 24 players from across the country invited to train with the U.S. Under-19 squad. The
Southeastern Conference’s freshman of the year is a familiar face within the U.S. Women’s National Team program. Her most recent summer stint with the U-19 team marks her third time with the USWNT.
Baucom competed in a rigorous one week camp alongside some of the best players in the country. Players went through intense two-a-days to prepare them for the 2016 Fédération Internationale de Football Association U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea.
“The first session was usually pretty technical, and the second session was when we did an intersquad scrimmage,” Baucom said. “That’s when we really compete and get after it. Doing two-a-days for seven days a week does get pretty tiring, but it just shows the next level mentality that you have to have to become better.”
The 5-foot-9-inch striker is one of the more offensively gifted players in the SEC. She had a team leading eight goals last season and tied with Clarke for the team lead in assists with four.
“She’s very unselfish,” said LSU coach Brian Lee. “An unheralded portion of Jorian’s game is if someone is in a better position in front of the goal she’ll lay the ball to them so that we can have an easier chance on goal rather than taking a chance for herself that’s not quite as good.”
Baucom’s physical frame made the transition into the SEC much smoother. She appeared in all 20 of LSU’s games last season, starting in all but three. But one thing she struggled with toward the end of the season was stamina.
She said she went to the U.S. training camp hoping to improve her fitness level and work on the defensive and technical aspects of her game.
“Playing in a couple camps with the U.S. team over the summer definitely kept my fitness up,” Baucom said. “It showed me a lot of my flaws and what I had to improve on and bring to LSU when I came back. I do feel like a different player, not just fitness level-wise but also technically, tactically and every other aspect of soccer. I definitely feel like I’ve improved since last year.”
Baucom attributes most of her success with the Tigers and the national team to the coach of the U-20 team Michelle French.
French’s expertise comes from her college career at the University of Portland and her efforts on the 2008 silver-medal winning U.S. Olympic team.
“I played under her on the national level when I was younger,” Baucom said. “She was able to watch me grow from a young girl to where I’m at right now. I really look up to her, and I’m constantly asking her questions on how I can improve my game. I’d definitely say she’s one of my top five role models.”
Although she’s still an underclassman, the Tigers’ coaching staff will look to Baucom to provide some much-needed experience on the front-line. LSU finished at the bottom of the SEC with a (1-9-1) record. Baucom will use her experience at the national level to bring success to the Tigers this season.
“She made a commitment to put in the daily work and really followed through on it,” Lee said. “Now, she’s reaping the benefits of it, whether it’s with the national team or whether it’s with us. It’s the accumulation of a lot of hard work.”