BATON ROUGE, La. – It’s officially here. The 2021-22 LSU Athletics season begins on Thursday night at LSU Soccer Stadium as the Tigers welcome the Southern Miss Golden Eagles to town. First kick will be at 7 p.m. CT and admission is free.
It’s time for year two under head coach Sian Hudson. Hudson is joined by her assistants Laura Busby, Seb Furness, and Lindsey Balconi, who are all in their second year as well. The LSU soccer team collected a record of 8-8-3 during the 2020-21 season under Hudson and company; that was a plus five win improvement from the 2019 season.
This will be the fifth match between the two programs. LSU has been the victor in all four previous contests. The Tigers actually downed Southern Miss in February with a 1-0 win over the Golden Eagles. Molly Thompson scored the game winner in the 44th minute with the assist going to Tinaya Alexander. Mollee Swift and Bella Zanotelli both played 45 minutes in the match for the combo shutout.
LSU owns a record of 16-10 in the 26 previous season’s first game. Specifically, the Tigers boast a home record of 12-3-0 in season openers.
LSU will be captained by Chiara Ritchie-Williams, Shannon Cooke, and Maddie Moreau. Ritchie-Williams is a fifth year senior, Cooke is a fourth year senior, and Moreau is entering her junior season.
The Tigers return a wealth of experience as 60 of their 62 points accounted for from the 2021-22 season are back in the Purple and Gold this season. Tinaya Alexander (21 points) and Molly Thompson (10 points) were the high point scorers from a year ago, and Taylor Dobles ranked No. 3 on the squad with eight. Mollee Swift started 17 of 19 games in goal for the Tigers a year ago with 80 saves; she ended the season with GAA of 0.95, which ranked as the third lowest average in the conference.
The Tigers have five players on the squad that have earned all-conference honors during their time at LSU. Rammie Noel and Maya Gordon were named to the All-SEC Second Team after the fall portion of the 2020-21 season that concluded last year. Chiara Ritchie-Williams (2017) and Maddie Moreau (2019) were named to the All-SEC Second Team in their respective seasons listed above, and Shannon Cooke was named to the 2018 SEC All-Tournament Team.
The 2021 roster is made up of 32 athletes, 12 of which are newcomers, that hail from four different countries (United States, England, Ghana, Canada). Five of LSU’s players have come across the pond from England, Reese Moffatt moved down from Canada, and Wasila Diwura-Soale is from Ghana. Of the remaining 25 American athletes, six are from Louisiana and Colorado, while five come from the state of Florida. Three Texans are on the roster and the states of Nebraska, North Carolina, California, Virginia, and Washington have one representative apiece.
LSU posted strong results in all three of their preseason matches with wins over ULM (6-0), Southeastern Louisiana (2-0), and Stephen F. Austin (3-1). Tinaya Alexander led the way with four goals in the preseason, while Meghan Johnson and Alesia Garcia both scored two apiece. Other goal scorers in the preseason were Athena Kuehn, Anna Rockett, and Molly Thompson.
The defense looked stout as well allowing only one goal in 270 minutes of play. All three goalkeepers – Mollee Swift, Bella Zanotelli, Jade Odom – saw time in net with Swift leading the way in minutes played. The backline consisted of a mixture of options including the likes of Shannon Cooke, Maya Gordon, Reese Moffatt, Grace Haggerty, Lindsi Jennings, and Tiana Caffey.
Tigers On A Roll
The start of the 2020-21 season was less than ideal for the Tigers as they went winless in their first eight matches, but the Tigers kept improving throughout the regular season. LSU arrived at the SEC Tournament as the No. 14 seed and proceeded to rattle off two wins as they beat Alabama 2-0 and No. 14 Ole Miss 2-1 in overtime before falling to No. 8 Texas A&M in the quarterfinals. That was the start of it all.
Going back to that Alabama game in the first round of the SEC Tournament, LSU has a record of 8-2-1 in their last 11 matches that saw them win six of a total eight matches in the spring. The whole team is basically back with the additions of talented newcomers and transfers. LSU will look to keep the momentum going as the 2021 season begins.
Scouting Southern Miss
Southern Miss posted a record of 7-3-1 during the 2020-21 season. They only played games during the spring and made it to the semifinals of the Conference USA Tournament. Ariel Diaz returns as their leading point getter from a year ago with five goals for 10 points. Kendell Mindnich returns in net and had a goals averaged against marker of 0.94 last season.
(Release via LSU Athletics)