BATON ROUGE - The LSU Soccer team fell by a 4-0 scoreline to the No. 8-ranked UCF Knights in its final non-conference match of the season at the LSU Soccer Stadium in Baton Rouge on Sunday afternoon after the sides were originally scheduled to meet at the UCF Soccer Complex in Orlando back on Sept. 8.
The meeting between the Tigers (8-5-2) and Knights (10-1-1) in the opening weeks of the 2017 season was postponed to Sunday afternoon with Hurricane Irma making landfall in South Florida that same day.
UCF took a 1-0 lead into halftime thanks to freshman forward Stefanie Sanders scoring her third goal of the season in the 31st minute just four minutes after entering the match as a first-half substitute. Her goal proved to be the match-winner as senior midfielder Kayla Adamek, junior midfielder Carrie Lawrence and freshman midfielder Madison Murnin found the scoresheet in the second half.
The Tigers were quick out of the blocks while controlling the tempo in the opening 10 minutes as senior Zoe Higgins nearly gave LSU the lead just six minutes from kickoff when her back-post header from Alex Thomas' cross might have brushed the post on its way out of play for a UCF goal kick. Thomas then played senior Nicole Howard through the Knights' back line for a stinging effort that forced a leaping save from UCF goalkeeper Vera Varis for a corner kick in the ninth minute of play.
"I thought the first 20 minutes were really good. We had a couple early chances, we did not stick them away, and then Central Florida came into the game," said LSU head coach Brian Lee. "They're a really good team. I thought they wore us down. Once they scored, they did what good teams do and tried to pounce. Goals came in bunches, and we have to react better when we give up a goal.
"We have a very young team. We're playing a bunch of freshmen and sophomores. In the last couple of weeks, one goal becomes two and it escalates very quickly. We have to get our focus back."
LSU's junior goalkeeper Caroline Brockmeier was quick off her line to deny Adamek's six-yard strike for UCF's first scoring chance of the afternoon at the 17-minute mark. Sanders found the breakthrough with her first opportunity on 31 minutes with an eight-yard strike from a tight angle after taking possession at the top of the box and dribbling through the right side of the area.
Lawrence doubled UCF's lead directly from her corner kick at the 55:04 mark of the second half before Adamek scored her eighth goal of the campaign only 35 seconds later when she freed herself behind the defense with a back heel and finish on the dribble at 55:39 to put the match out of reach.
Murnin finished off the scoring on a shot from distance that found the net for her second goal of her rookie season as Sanders turned provider in the build up for what was her first assist of the 2017 season.
With Sunday's result now in the books, the Tigers will return their attention to Southeastern Conference play with three matches remaining down the stretch as they wrap up their three-game homestand on Thursday night when they host No. 16-ranked Texas A&M in a match scheduled to kick off at 6 p.m. CT on the SEC Network.