LSU Soccer Holds Annual Media Day Ahead of Season Opener - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

LSU Soccer Holds Annual Media Day Ahead of Season Opener

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BATON ROUGE, La. (KALB News Channel 5) – LSU head coach Brian Lee and midfielders Alex Arlitt and Natalia Gomez-Junco met with members of the media on Tuesday afternoon to discuss preseason training and preview the 2014 season as part of the annual LSU Soccer & Volleyball Media Day held in the media room at the LSU Basketball Practice Facility.

The Tigers are just three days from the start of the 2014 season as they welcome the Troy Trojans to Baton Rouge on Friday night for a match that is set to kick off at 7 p.m. CT at the LSU Soccer Stadium. Below are selected quotes from those in attendance at media day. Full video of the event will be available at LSUsports.net shortly.

Comments from the 2014 LSU Soccer Media Day

Head Coach Brian Lee

On the physical stature of this year’s LSU Soccer team …

“Historically with our team, we are so passing-oriented. I love our quick passing game and our kids that can pass and move. But as college soccer gets a little more athletic, it gets to be more of an aerial battle. We’ve struggled in the past with that area, so we’ve added Jordane Carvery, who just joined us form the Canadian U-20 World Cup team, is close to six-foot tall and dominant in the air. She will immediately become one of the best players in the air in the SEC from day one. We have Alexis Urch from Austin, Texas. Her main strength is ball-winning. Christyna Pitre is our holding midfielder from our freshman class, whose dominant trait is winning balls in the air. For all of these kids it is in front of both boxes. Hopefully, they will defend well on set pieces and chip in a few goals on offense from set pieces and corners that maybe we haven’t gotten in the past on our own corners.”

On recruiting across the country and around the world …

“We are really lucky that LSU has a fantastic brand. Our logo is recognized worldwide, and that gets us in the front door. It can be in New Zealand or it can be in England. Our branding, I feel like, is second to none in college athletics. And then it becomes about information to helping the kids make intelligent, informed decisions. I think when anyone who is somewhat pragmatic looks at their college choice and lays things out between different schools and takes a thorough look at say LSU versus any of our competitors, we come out very successful. We just need those kids to take a close look.”

On Summer Clarke’s improvement heading into her second season …

“She spent a year with our strength and conditioning department, and her fitness testing scores when she came in as a freshman, is fair to say, were at the bottom end of the team. Twelve months later, they are at the top of the team. She is a great athlete who is now in great shape. So just at that end itself, much less being uncomfortable in the environment and a clear understanding of what the coaches are looking for and her understanding of her teammates as well. It helps that we have Jorian Baucom joining the team, our freshman striker who we had as the top recruit in the country, to help take the pressure off of her. A defense can’t focus on just Summer alone anymore. By the middle of last season, Summer was getting a lot of that defensive attention. We’re expecting good things from her.”

On Jorian Baucom joining the program as an impact recruit …

“We let the game start before we decide that. We feel like we have a talented group of freshmen. You can be the world’s greatest player and you can do well in training, but the lights are going to come on Friday nights and you are going to have some good things happen and some bad things happen. How you react to those things and next week in training and into those next games, that’s how we will define her freshman year. You can’t miss this girl. She’s big, fast, is two-footed, technical, brave, tough and willing to put herself in front of goal. I think she has a very bright future with us and I think she has a bright future with the national team as well.”

On LSU’s goalkeeping options in 2014 after the graduation of Megan Kinneman …

“We’ve got returning Catalina Rubiano, who is a Louisiana kid who came to us as a very raw, but hard-working talent. She’s with us. She came off the summer spending some time training with the Columbian national team. We’ve also got incoming freshman Lily Alfeld, who came to campus just last night. She played with New Zealand in the (FIFA Under-20 Women’s) World Cup. She made one of the saves of the tournament, and I think she pitched two shutouts as well. We’ve got high expectations for Lily. And just like all of our other New Zealand kids, she always smiles and is always happy, which sets a great tone for the team.”

Midfielder Alex Arlitt

On being the only senior on the team in 2014 …

“I mean, honestly, it’s not that big of a change. I feel like this year it’s a little bit different in the sense that we are more on a level playing field, so I definitely have a lot of help from the juniors, sophomores and even the freshmen. Everyone is just kind of equal. We’ve kind of opened up the floor and said, ‘hey, if you’re a freshman, you know if you have something to say, don’t be scared … say it to me. Say it to a junior. Say it to anyone.’ I think that’s really helped the team a lot, just kind of having that openness.”

On the performance incoming freshmen and transfers in training …

“Obviously, they have a lot of talent and a lot of diversity because we have forwards, we have defenders, we have everywhere, which is really helpful to have. I think, most importantly, they all just bring a great work ethic, which is great to have in a freshman group. It’s kind of hard whenever you’re brand new to a program to come in and just adapt that quickly and just work hard every single time, but I mean, they’ve done a great job with that every practice. They bring it, and we are all really appreciative of that.”

On this year’s expectations and goals ….

“In the past, we have sat down in preseason and said, ‘look this year we want to win the West. We want to win the conference,’ whatever we want to do, but this year, we’ve just kind of with such a young group, we focus more on alright this practice we are just going to work our tails off. We are going to work as hard as we possibly can, and I think those sort of goals will fall into place if we just keep focusing practice-by-practice and game-by-game like that.”

On the veterans and incoming freshmen at practice …

“It’s really great. I mean, obviously, we have Summer (Clarke) and Fernanda (Pina) and a lot of veterans coming back that have had really good seasons, and then, throwing the new freshmen into the mix is just making it that much stronger, I know, already at practice. It looks really good out there. It looks really clean, and I’m really excited to have them up top.”

Midfielder Natalia Gomez-Junco

On being able to play after having to sit out last year after transferring …

“I couldn’t play, obviously. I couldn’t step on the field, and that just gave me so much motivation to, when my time came, just give everything. So, I think that will be the thing that will push me this year to value every game and to know how sacred it is to step on the field and know how unique it is. That motivates me to give my best, try to contribute to the team in any aspect. Whatever I have to do for us to win, I’ll do it, and I think that’s the most important thing that sitting out gave me.”

On being from Mexico and coming to the U.S. to play college soccer and making the decision to transfer to LSU ….

“It’s different for a freshman to come here to the U.S. than for me that I transferred because when I transferred, I kind of knew which schools were good. You know, I had a better idea. When I first came to the U.S. I had no idea of college soccer. I had no idea of how everything worked. You commit kind of like blindfolded, I would say. As coach (Brian Lee) said, LSU has a great brand. It speaks for itself. The facilities we have here are ridiculous. No pro team in the world, I can say, has this type of facility … we have like a psychologist, a nutritionist. We have everything you need as an athlete, as a soccer player. Seeing the things we have here, it’s just unbelievable, and I think that just like sells itself. And, Coach Brian (Lee) is so good. We have a very good team, nice girls, very close, so that altogether is perfect.”

On the coaching staff at LSU…

“It’s been great. I love LSU soccer. From day one, whenever I transferred, they were always very nice to me. They were always very nice to work with, so it’s going to be great finally playing and finally being coached in a game. I am so excited. It is going to be so fun, and I can’t wait for it to start.”

 

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