Louisiana faces its toughest challenge of the year
LOUISIANA La - Louisiana's Ragin' Cajuns women's soccer team continues its three-match homestand Friday with a 7 p.m. match against I-10 rival Louisiana State University at Cajun Field.
The Cajuns (4-2) are off to their best start in program history and bring a two-match winning streak into Friday's affair. LSU (5-1-1) comes in after suffering its first defeat of the season last Sunday and features an offense that has produced 30 goals in seven matches.
Louisiana is 3-0 versus in-state schools this season with wins over Nicholls State, Northwestern State and UL Monroe.
Friday's match presents the Cajuns with an opportunity to snap LSU's winning streak against state teams. Entering Friday's match, the Tigers have not lost to a team from Louisiana since 1999. LSU is 15-0-2 against Louisiana schools since head coach George Fotopoulos took over in 2000.
Louisiana is 2-0 this season in matches played on Friday.
The Cajuns are coming off a successful weekend in which they posted two wins to move two games over the .500 mark for the first time in program history. In the last outing Louisiana slipped past UL Monroe 1-0 in overtime on a goal by Tiffany Garber four-plus minutes into the extra session.
"This is an important weekend for us as we have two in-state opponents," said head coach Dave Poggi in reference to hosting both LSU and McNeese State this weekend. "Obviously this is the best start that we've had but we are not going to let it get over our heads because we still have a long way to go and hopefully these two matches will help prepare us for conference play which begins in two weeks."
The Cajuns are led by Garber, the reigning Sun Belt Conference Player of the Week, and her four goals. The Lafayette native has three match-winning goals to her credit and has provided the decisive score in the Cajuns last three victories.
The Tigers are coming off of a 4-3 overtime loss to No. 11 Texas last Sunday in a match where LSU led 3-1 at intermission.
"LSU gives us a lot of different looks and presents the biggest challenge we've seen so far this season," Poggi remarked. "They are strong at every position, have good team speed and there's not really a weak spot to try and attack.
"What it will take from us is more of the same effort that got us through last weekend, which is working hard for each other and taking advantage of the few opportunities that hopefully we will get," Poggi added.
Forward Stacy Bishop leads the Tigers into the match with the Cajuns. The freshman from Land O'Lakes, Fla., leads the team and the Southeastern Conference in goals scored with 10 and ranks fifth in the nation in goals per game average with 3.14
LSU leads the all-time series 3-0 with the last two meetings coming in Baton Rouge.
UL will be seeking to score its first goal in the series having been shutout the past three seasons.
This will be the second meeting in Lafayette, but the first at Cajun Field. In the Cajuns inaugural season, 2000, LSU took a 4-0 win at Moore Park Sept. 26, 2000.
Following Friday's match, the Cajuns will conclude their current three-match homestand on Sunday at 1 p.m. versus McNeese State.