It didn’t take long for the LSU soccer team to return to form after suffering its first loss of the season against Rice on Sunday.
Following their 1-0 defeat to the Owls, the Tigers quickly regained their offensive cohesiveness against Nicholls State on Tuesday with three first-half goals that resulted in a 3-0 victory against the in-state foes.
But LSU (3-1) will venture into unfamiliar territory when it hits the pitch against Big 12 opponent TCU tonight.
After a four-game homestand to kick off the 2014 season, the Tigers will get their first taste of road action when they travel to Fort Worth, Texas, for a match against the Horned Frogs (1-3) at 7 p.m. tonight at Garvey-Rosenthal Stadium.
Tonight’s match against TCU also marks the first road game for the Tigers’ eight freshmen, who have all seen extensive action through the squad’s first four games. However, coach Brian Lee said the different playing surface shouldn’t affect his young club’s chances of leaving Garvey-Rosenthal Stadium with a victory.
“Certainly the crowds will be cheering against us for the first time,” Lee said. “But we just have to deal with it well and keep our composure and mentality right. The fields are always the same length and same width, so if we can be mature and professional about what we’re doing, [being on the road] really doesn’t make a difference.”
LSU’s offensive display through the early portion of the season has added to Lee’s optimism.
The Tigers have more than tripled the scoring output of their first four opponents, tallying 11 goals against three, and 10 players have recorded an assist.
But it was LSU’s victory against Nicholls that gave Lee confidence for tonight’s contest against TCU. The Tigers had season highs in both shots and shots on goal against the Colonels’ defense, with 21 and 10, respectively.
After the match, Lee said the squad finally showed the signs of improvement he felt would come as the Tigers became more familiar with one another.
“For the first time this fall, I thought we started getting the pass-and-move idea and trusting each other and playing more attractive soccer, so hopefully we can build off of this on Friday night [against TCU],” Lee said.
LSU’s pass-and-move approach has led to an abundance of scoring opportunities in the early going this season. The Tigers have doubled their opponents’ shot attempts with 68, and the 11 goals they’ve scored through four games are the most since 2007.
“It’s just a matter of playing together and getting to know each other’s runs and movements off the ball,” said junior midfielder Natalia Gomez-Junco. “I think we have a good rotation now, and we have several good players that could play any position. That’s very hard for other teams to mark and keep track of.”
On the other side of the field, LSU’s young back line, which is still without lone senior Alex Arlitt, shouldn’t have much difficulty keeping track of the struggling Horned Frogs’ attack.
TCU has an average of 0.75 goals per game through four games, which is precisely what LSU and freshman goalkeeper Lily Alfeld have allowed opponents this season.
Competing on the road is a challenge for any collegiate athlete, especially for the first time. But junior defensive midfielder Heather Magee said the thrill of playing in different venues will heighten the level of play for the young Tiger defenders.
“It’s exciting to play in new places and see different crowds,” Magee said. “It’ll be a huge adrenaline rush and it’ll get everyone going. It’s definitely going to test them, but it’s also going to be a great opportunity.”