In the LSU soccer team’s 2-0 victory against Troy in its season opener Friday night, both goals were scored by players making their debut in the purple and gold.
The early contributions of freshman Jorian Baucom and redshirt junior midfielder Natalia Gomez-Junco, a transfer from the University of Memphis, highlighted the importance of young players on an LSU squad that boasts only one senior.
Baucom got the Tigers on the board just 48 seconds into the match by heading in a cross from junior midfielder Fernanda Pina, the fastest goal scored in a season opener in LSU history.
“Well, when you say you want to start the season strong, that was very pleasing to see,” LSU coach Brian Lee said. “It’s good for Jorian to get on the score sheet that early. A good cross from [Pina], so it was a nice assist from her as well. One of the things we really focus on is coming out fast and strong. It doesn’t get any better than that for a start.”
After having to sit out all of 2013 because of an NCAA transfer rule, Gomez-Junco made the most of her first start by scoring the second goal in the 59th minute.
“I didn’t really see it,” Gomez-Junco said. “They hit me just as I shot, so I couldn’t see it. But hopefully I get tape on it. I’m just happy to score.”
Along with Baucom, defenders Jordane Carvery and Alexis Urch and goalkeeper Lily Alfeld made their first career start. Eight of the nine players in the recruiting class of 2014, which was ranked No. 7 in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer.com, made appearances in the opener.
“I think at times they played like freshmen and at times they played like really polished, good players,” Lee said. “At times, there were eight kids who’d never played a real game here. I thought it was really choppy at times, and we didn’t look as smooth as we will later in the season, but [it was] a good start.”
Alfeld’s first start comes after only a few days of practice with the team. Before that, she lead the U-20 New Zealand National team to a quarter-finals showing in the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada this summer.
Alfeld’s three saves protected the shutout and gave Lee the confidence to name her as the No. 1 keeper, despite her short time with the team.
“I thought [Alfeld] had a fantastic debut in goal to help when [communication breaks down in the defense],” Lee said. “But that is what she is here to do, so we are happy tonight.”