No. 7 LSU upsets No. 2 Mizzou
ORANGE BEACH, Ala. -- With two early shots in the first half, seventh-seeded LSU (13-4-4) upset No. 2 Mizzou (9-5-5) in quarterfinals at the 2015 SEC Soccer Tournament.
Alex Thomas scored her second goal of the season on a short shot to left post off of a rebound in the 10th minute with an assist by Debbie Hahn. LSU brought the lead to two in the 18th minute with Gabriela Maldonado's fourth goal of the season.
Down 2-0 at the half, Missouri sophomore Kaitlyn Clark scored in the 59th minute but the Tigers could not find the equalizer.
LSU pushed its unbeaten streak to six straight games with the win while advancing to the SEC Tournament semifinals for the fifth time in school history and the first time since 2010.
LSU head coach Brian Lee will look to lead his troops into the SEC Tournament Championship Game for just the second time in program history while making their fifth semifinal appearance in his 11 seasons. It's a tenure to produce four-straight appearances in the semifinal round from the 2007-10 seasons.
"I'm so proud of the way our team has approached the back end of this season by taking it one game at a time and taking each day as it comes," Lee said. "We had a great day of preparation yesterday, and it showed in our performance today, particularly in the first half. We came out with a great mindset early on to get the goals, and just saw it out in the end when Missouri kept the pressure on us late.
"It's important for us now to get back and regroup this afternoon, have another productive day of recovery tomorrow and put ourselves in the best position we can to have success come Friday night."
Thomas gave the Tigers a 1-0 lead just 10 minutes after the opening kickoff as she found the net with her first goal since LSU's second match of the season at home against Northwestern State back on Aug. 25.
"Early goals are important to any team. Sometimes it takes us until the second half to really get going, so to get the early goal meant a great deal to our team," Thomas said. "For me, what it meant was seeing smiles on the seniors' faces for another day. They have worked so hard for this with us, so to see them happy for another day is enough for me. Getting that goal meant a lot to me and everyone else."
Maldonado quickly doubled the Tigers' advantage eight minutes later when she controlled the entry pass by All-SEC striker Summer Clarke, side-stepped her defender and fired home inside the left post from 10 yards for her second goal in as many matches at the SEC Tournament. She also scored the winner in LSU's 2-1 victory over 10th-seeded Kentucky in the first round on Monday afternoon.
"I faked like I was going to shoot it first time and just stepped to the side and finished," Maldonado said of her second game-winning goal in the tournament. "It's motivating being my first time here to stay focused for the team and do my best in what I need to do, defending, running and scoring goals. I know we have great players here, so it pushes me to be more like them."
"We definitely wouldn't have done it without the leadership of the seniors, and the upperclassmen in general," Thomas said of getting acclimated to the team this season. "A lot of teams don't have that leadership we have, and they just make us feel so comfortable. Here, you don't feel like a freshman. You feel like you're just one of them, so it's easy to get comfortable and go out and work hard and do our jobs for the team."
LSU advances to semifinals to play the winner of No. 3 Ole Miss vs. No. 6 Texas A&M, Friday in Match 8 at 6:00 p.m. CT.