LSU soccer coach Sian Hudson said one of her team’s main objectives entering the 2021 season was executing set pieces, an element the Tigers struggled to convert last season.
But not in Thursday night’s season opener against Southern Mississippi at LSU’s Soccer Stadium as the Tigers produced the game-winning goal on their final set piece opportunity.
Senior Wasila Diwura-Soale scoring on a deflection off a corner kick in the 85th minute to lift the Tigers to a 2-1 victory over the Golden Eagles for LSU’s 17th season opener in its 27-year history.
“I thought it was a great start to the season to get a win,” LSU soccer coach Sian Hudson said. “I don’t think we started the game well as we came out a bit slow, but it was great for Jordan (Johnson) to get a goal and put us ahead before half. We made great halftime adjustments and were able to press higher up the field due to these changes. Wasila’s (Diwura-Soale) composed finish put us ahead off a corner, which was great as we looked to improve our set piece taking over the offseason. Overall, there were some great things to take from tonight.”
With the Tigers’ Reese Moffatt taking her team’s eighth corner of the game, she sent the ball into play where Diwura-Soale, who was in between both boxes, got a head on the ball which was directed forward into heavy traffic.
Senior Diwura-Soale saw the ball pin-balling in the six-yard box, got a head of steam and ran toward the ball where the right-foot dominant player struck the ball with her left foot into the back of the net.
The goals from Diwura-Soale and sophomore Jordan Johnson, who scored just before halftime, were the first of their LSU careers.
“First of all I want to say thanks to my teammates,” Diwura-Soale said. “We all work so hard and we have each other’s back. I’m so excited I got my first goal (here at LSU) that helped us win the game. I can’t tell you how happy I am for the goal. We will keep working hard and taking each match one at a time.”
LSU returns to action at 1 p.m. Sunday, hosting Sam Houston State.
The Tigers outshot the Eagles 22-11, including 12-5 in the second half, with USM holding a 6-5 edge in shots on goal.
Sophomore goalkeeper Mollee Swift finished with five saves.
LSU, who was without injured tri-captain Shannon Cooke, was able to show off its depth with 20 players getting into the game and only defender Maya Gordon the lone field player having to log all 90 minutes.
LSU found itself locked in a 1-1 deadlock after USM tied the match in the 63rd minute.
Midfielder Blessing Kingsley found a loose ball in the six-yard box when Swift, who was outstretched for an initial save, couldn’t secure the ball which Kingsley deposited into the net.
LSU nearly went into halftime in a scoreless tie when Johnson, who entered the game in the final minute of play, alertly hustled to a loose ball which she gathered and shot from 22 yards out. Her shot deflected off the shoulder of a USM defender in the six-yard box and went into the top left of the goal with 14 seconds remaining.