LSU soccer starts SEC schedule Friday

The LSU soccer team begins its Southeastern Conference schedule on Friday, as the Tigers host the 16th-ranked Florida Gators at 7 p.m. at the LSU Soccer Complex.

"We're trying to approach this game as if it's just another game," said LSU head coach George Fotopoulos. "We need to get some wins, and in my opinion a win is a win and the Louisiana-Lafayette game is just as important to us as Florida is.

"Anytime you play another SEC opponent it adds a bit of bite to the contest, but we're preparing for it as if it's just any other game."

LSU heads into Friday's SEC opening contest with a 1-0 record. Last week, the Tigers defeated McNeese State, 5-0, in their opening game of the season. LSU began the year with a 1-0 mark for the fourth-straight season and recorded its 11th shutout with Fotopoulos at the helm.

The Gators come into Baton Rouge with an overall record of 1-1 and as the 16th-ranked team in the nation. Florida opened the season by defeating Utah, 5-2, before dropping its most recent match to Stanford, 3-2, at home in the Percy Beard Soccer Stadium.

"To be quite honest with you, Florida is definitely one of the best teams in the conference," Fotopoulos said. "They have the best coach, a lot of good players and I hope that we will be able to play hard and be able to keep the game competitive. They beat us 11-0 the last time that we played them and I think that our players want a bit of redemption."

Florida leads the all-time series by a count of 3-0 and the Gators have outscored LSU, 28-1, in the three contests.

Friday's game at the LSU Soccer Complex will be only the second home game for the Tigers against Florida. In 1997, LSU fell to the Gators, 10-1, at home in Baton Rouge. Florida rattled off wins of 7-0 and 11-0 in the two matchups in Gainesville, Fla.

"Our team is really looking forward to playing this Florida squad," said Fotopoulos. "A lot of our players were a part of the 11-0 drumming that they gave us in 1999 and they don't want to let it happen again. We also have to remember that this is only one game, and win or lose, our season is far from being over."

The LSU coaching staff will have a bit of added interest in Friday's game against Florida.

Coach Fotopoulos' wife, Danielle, owns the NCAA record for career points (284) and career goals (118), men or women, spending two years at SMU and then two at Florida. Danielle helped the Gators to the 1998 NCAA title, scoring the lone goal in Florida's shocking 1-0 upset of perennial power North Carolina and was named the National Player of the Year.

Tracy Hay, the Tigers' assistant coach, was a starting defender on the 1998 NCAA champion squad for the Gators and was a three-time member of the SEC Academic Honor Roll. Hay received the Gator Soccer Award for her excellent performance both on and off the field in 1998.

The Tigers host the 16th-ranked Florida Gators at 7 p.m. at the LSU Soccer Complex. Admission is free for students, $5 for adults and $3 for children ages 3-12.


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