LSU advances past Kentucky in Game 1
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. -- Despite facing a 1-0 deficit at the break, No. 7 LSU came out flying after halftime as senior Natalia Gomez-Junco and freshman Gabriela Maldonado each found the net within 10 minutes of the restart to lead LSU to a 2-1 comeback win over No. 10 Kentucky in Monday's opening round at the SEC Women's Soccer Tournament.
The Wildcats scored the match's opening goal in the 24th minute as Mexican International Tanya Samarzich scored on a goal from Cara Ledman to put UK up early. Off a refire from a corner kick, Samarzich got the ball from 10 yards out and put home a greatly-served ball from Ledman back across the face of goal into the back of the net with the outside of her foot for the 1-0 lead.
The Tigers (12-4-4) picked up their first SEC Tournament victory since a 1-0 extra time win over Tennessee in the first round in 2010 while snapping a three-game losing skid at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
"I'm so proud of the character showed by our players today to come back and win it with a great second half," said LSU head coach Brian Lee. "There's so much on the line for the teams here this week, so to regroup at halftime and get back out and take control of the game like we did in the second half is a testament to our mentality and competitiveness as a team at such an important time of the season."
UK took their 1-0 lead into the break having seven shots in the opening 45 and two of them on goal. UK also had five corner kicks in the half and did not concede one in the frame.
Wildcat Katelyn Jensen had seven saves on the night. Jensen faced 15 shots on the night with nine of the Tigers' shots coming on goal. Kentucky finishes its season at 9-7-4 overall and 3-5-3 in the SEC.
The Tigers maintained their territorial advantage for the remainder of the match as they finished the afternoon with a 19-15 lead in attempts and 9-6 advantage in shots on goal for the 90 minutes. The Wildcats fired up seven corner kicks in the match to just two corner kicks for LSU on the day. Maldonado enjoyed an SEC Tournament debut to remember with her first game-winning goal of the season.
LSU leveled its record at 5-5-4 in 14 matches at the SEC Tournament since Lee's debut season in 2005, while advancing to the quarterfinal round for the first time since the 2010 season. The Tigers extended their unbeaten streak to five-straight matches heading into Wednesday's quarterfinal match against No. 2-seeded Missouri at Noon CT on SEC Network.