HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The LSU soccer team (4-0-2) finished the weekend with a 3-1 road win against the Southern Miss Golden Eagles (0-3-0) on Sunday afternoon at the Southern Miss Soccer Complex.
The Tigers opened the scoring in the 52nd minute as forward Alesia Garcia sent a rocket into the top-right corner from 19 yards out. Southern Miss grabbed an equalizer only two minutes later as Ilana Izquierdo slotted a shot into the bottom-left corner.
LSU regained the lead in the 57th minute as midfielder Brenna McPartlan headed home a goal from a set piece into the top-right corner. Defender Tilly Wilkes extended the lead to 3-1 and sealed the game for the Tigers in the 70th minute as she volleyed home a cross sent into the box.
"I'm really pleased with the performance. All credit to Southern Miss, they made it difficult on the day with their defensive structure in the first half and it was difficult to break down," head coach Sian Hudson said.
"I'm pleased with the response in the second half. It was a great goal by Alesia Garcia to get us started on the scoresheet, followed by a great finish by Brenna McPartlan for her first goal in LSU's colors, and finally what a finish it was from Olivia Wilkes for her first goal of the season"
LSU opened the match on the attacking foot and brought pressure early. Forward Mollie Baker had the first shot on target of the match in the 6th minute as her attempted finesse shot from the top of the box was collected by Southern Miss goalkeeper Alex Helbling. Helbling was called into action again four minutes later as she denied a chance from LSU midfielder Raelyn Prince. She would go on to grab one more save in the 41st minute, this time denying forward Sage Glover.
Tiger goalkeeper Mollee Swift made a vital save in the 35th minute to keep the score at 0-0. Adaira Nakano received a ball in the box and hit a first-time effort from 10 yards out. Swift acrobatically parried the ball away with her right palm to deny Southern Miss' golden chance.
LSU thought the breakthrough came as time expired in the first half. Forward Taylor Dobles sent a through ball into the final-third that found Garcia, who took a shot on the half-volley that skipped past the Golden Eagles' goalkeeper and went into the goal off the left post as the clock hit zero. The officials, however, ultimately waved the goal off and the match went into the break tied at 0-0.
The second half began, and the Tigers remained as energetic as they were in the first. The breakthrough came in the 52nd minute as Garcia converted for the Tigers. Garcia picked the ball up at the top of the final third and dribbled to the top of the box before sending a powerful shot from 19 yards out into the top-right corner. The goal was her third of the season as the forward is in fine form having scored in three of the last four matches.
Southern Miss' response only took two minutes as Izquierdo made it 1-1 on the day. Izquierdo found herself on the end of a perfect pass and sent a ground shot into the bottom-left corner from 10 yards out.
The Purple & Gold shook off the equalizer and retook the lead only three minutes later in the 57th. LSU took a corner and sent the ball to the top of the box, where a cross was played at the back post. McPartlan found herself on the end of it and sent a well-placed header that beat the Southern Miss goalkeeper and landed in the top-right corner. LSU had a 2-1 lead on the day and McPartlan had her first goal as a Tiger.
LSU's lead was extended to 3-1 in the 70th minute as Wilkes secured the safety goal for the Tigers. Defender Maya Gordon burst forward down the right flank and sent a cross to the back post. Wilkes tracked the cross in the air and hit a left-footed volley from six yards out that sped past the goalkeeper and into the back of the net. Wilkes' goal was her first in Purple & Gold while Gordon's assist was her first of the season and second of her collegiate career. Wilkes and McPartlan, two Englishwomen who were teammates at South Alabama from 2018-21 before transferring to LSU together, both found the back of the net for the first time as LSU players in the same match.
Swift made her only save of the second half in the 61st minute as she calmly collected a shot on frame from a Golden Eagle attacker. She finished the day with two saves and strongly contributed by organizing LSU's defense to limit Southern Miss' chances in terms of quality and quantity.
The Tigers outshot the Golden Eagles by a margin of 17-5, with LSU having ten shots on frame compared to Southern Miss' three. LSU claimed the possession battle by a margin of 58% to 42%. The team secured a comfortable road win and has now started the season on a six-match unbeaten streak.
LSU heads to the east coast to take on the Princeton Tigers at 6 p.m. CT on Thursday, September 8.