When the LSU soccer team met Memphis early in the 2007 season, Rachel Yepez had a hat trick to lead a 7-2 onslaught.
“I certainly think they possibly still remember that,” LSU coach Brian Lee said. “We’ve found a really motivated team when we’ve seen them the last couple of years.”
Since the 2007 rout gave LSU a 3-0 edge in the all-time series, Memphis has handed Lee’s club a pair of shutout defeats. Memphis won 2-0 in 2009 and 1-0 last year.
LSU will look to regain its grip on the series when the Tigers open 2011 against Memphis at 7 p.m. Friday at the Mike Rose Soccer Complex in Memphis, Tenn.
“Your first game of the year, you always want a big-name opponent that keeps you working for the nine months with the lead-in to the season,” Lee said. “We’ve got a lot of respect for Memphis. They’re a good program and a good team that has certainly given us problems.”
Memphis has won four straight Conference USA tournament championships to win the league’s automatic NCAA tournament bid. Lizzy Simonin, the 2010 Conference USA Defender of the Year, returns for her senior season.
On Saturday, Memphis played Auburn to a 0-0 draw in a preseason match.
LSU will open its remade soccer complex when the Tigers host Oregon in a Sept. 9 showdown, but first comes five straight road games to get the season started. LSU plays at Louisiana-Lafayette at 1 p.m. Sunday.
The heavy road slate reflects Lee’s shuffling of the schedule in recent weeks to accommodate stadium renovations.
“In the end, it created a great home opener and stadium opener with Oregon coming to town,” Lee said.
After missing the NCAA tournament last year for the first time in four seasons, LSU looks to get back to the form it showed in winning three straight Southeastern Conference Western Division crowns from 2007-09.
The Tigers return 10 starters and 16 letter-winners from a team that finished 8-8-5 and advanced to the semifinals of the SEC tournament. Allysha Chapman, one of five seniors, is a two-time all-conference selection.
Looking to pick up the pace on offense, LSU is transitioning to a 4-3-3 alignment.
The Tigers ranked second in the SEC last year in averaging 0.72 goals allowed, but they ranked 10th in the league with an average of 1.19 goals scored.
“We’re just trying to get more players forward,” Lee said. “We’ve got to find a way to get more goals.”
LSU picked second in West
In a vote of SEC soccer’s 12 head coaches, LSU was picked to finish second behind Auburn in the West race, the league office announced Thursday.
Auburn, the reigning West champion, picked up seven first-place votes and four second-place votes for 62 points in the ballot. LSU received five first-place votes and six second-place votes for 60 points.
Behind Auburn and LSU, Ole Miss was picked third with 39 points, followed by Alabama (37) in fourth place, Arkansas (30) in fifth and Mississippi State (18) in sixth.