Some Tigers are spending the offseason trying to stay conditioned. Others are vying for a chance to represent their country.
Four LSU players were called up to their respective national teams’ training camps in preparation for the 2014 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup, which will run from Aug. 5 to Aug. 24.
Sophomore defender Megan Lee and freshman goalkeeper Lily Alfeld will represent New Zealand, and sophomore midfielder Emma Fletcher and freshman defender Jordane Carvery will play for Canada.
Lee earned Second Team All-SEC honors during her freshman season despite missing two games while participating in a pair of friendlies with the New Zealand team. Alfeld also boasts extensive experience with 11 international caps in the Junior Football Ferns’ system.
Fletcher, who led LSU with 12 assists and garnered SEC All-Freshman Team recognition last season, has frequented Canadian training camps and looks to be a shoo-in for a spot on the national team. Carvery has received three invitations to train with the U-20 team since signing with the Tigers in February.
Junior midfielders Fernanda Piña and Natalia Gomez-Junco also participated in a training camp with the Mexican senior team last week.
LSU ASSEMBLING CHALLENGING NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE
While most soccer fans have had their eyes fixed on the World Cup, the LSU soccer team has continued preparing for the 2014 season.
The Tigers scheduled non-conference matches at BYU, Duke and Marquette, though a kick-off time has yet to be established for the Sept. 11 tilt at BYU. LSU is still finalizing its pre-Southeastern Conference slate, but coach Brian Lee doesn’t mind the stiff competition.
“It says a lot about the players we’ve accumulated in these last couple of years,” Lee said. “Recruiting has gone very well. We’re going to have a very young team for the next few seasons, but the Dukes and the Marquettes recognize we have a chance to be quite good.”
Atlantic Coast Conference powerhouse Duke reached the quarterfinals of the past two NCAA Tournaments after claiming national runner-up in 2011.
Marquette brings a similar prestige following its 2013 campaign, during which it won the Big East Tournament and earned a No. 2 seed in the national tournament.
The Tigers will visit BYU as part of a home-and-home series with the Cougars. LSU lost last year’s home match against BYU, which went on to claim a share of the West Coast Conference title and advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Those three matches should boost LSU’s Rating Percentage Index, which determines which teams qualify for the national tournament.
“The players certainly want to play the very best teams we can find to schedule,” Lee said. “A win over Marquette, Duke or BYU goes a long way toward getting into the NCAA Tournament.”
WILLIAMS COMPLETES 2014 CLASS
English defender Ella Williams signed her National Letter of Intent with LSU on June 5 to further increase the Tigers’ international flair.
Williams picked up six international caps with the U-15 and U-17 teams and has already spent time training with the U-19 squad. The Leatherhead, Surrey, native joined Alfeld and Carvery as LSU’s international recruits one year after Brian Lee brought in five players from outside the United States.
“International women’s soccer has expanded so quickly,” Brian Lee said. “The rest of the world is getting so much better so fast that we just wanted to be on the front end of it.”
Williams strengthens the Tigers’ recruiting class, which was ranked No. 7 in the nation by TopDrawerSoccer.com on National Signing Day in February.
LSU’s recruiting class features three of the top 150 American prospects, with forward Jorian Baucom checking in at No. 13, defender Alexis Urch at No. 55 and midfielder Christyna Pitre at No. 104.
Midfielder Madeline Ramsey, the younger sister of former LSU defender Alex Ramsey, rounds out the Tigers’ 2014 class.
All six of LSU’s departing seniors played in either midfield or the defending third, and Brian Lee addressed those vacancies on the recruiting trail.
“We’ve upgraded our talent level in those spots,” Brian Lee said. “It’s just going to be finding the right mix between young and old players and who’s fit and ready to go.”