Northwestern State aiming to build off positive second half against Texas A&M for LSU visit Tuesday

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NSU’s Cassandra Briscoe and Amy Renteria track down a ball during a game this past season. PHOTO: Gary Hardamon/NSU Photographic Services

Northwestern State will attempt to build off a positive second half against No. 5 Texas A&M as the Lady Demons travel to their second straight Southeastern Conference foe on Tuesday at LSU (1-0).

NSU (1-1) suffered its first loss of the season in Sunday’s 3-0 defeat at Texas A&M, but the Aggies scored two goals in the first 10 minutes. The Lady Demons allowed just one goal in the last 80 minutes, including holding A&M scoreless in the last 60 minutes.

LSU is coming off an impressive 2-1 road win at Oregon, and NSU coach George Van Linder said his team can’t have a slow start like it did in College Station, Texas.

“For us when we play any of the Power 5 schools, we just want to come out and play our best from the first minute,” Van Linder said. That was evident (Sunday) in the first 10 or 15 minutes.

“That’s not to say (Texas A&M) wasn’t the better team, but if we’re going to lose, we want to lose playing our best. The frustration for us was that we didn’t have our 100 percent in the beginning.”

The three-goal margin is NSU’s closest to a Power 5 conference member since 2009 when the Lady Demons played Mississippi State to a 2-1 loss and Oklahoma State to a 3-0 loss.

NSU has lost all four meetings with LSU, including a 6-2 loss in 2014.

Van Linder said he expects to keep a similar starting lineup and rotation Tuesday, although he highlighted freshman defender Ysmina Smith as a player who could see more time.

Smith, junior Patry Carrion and sophomores Amy Renteria and Allison Palomo constituted a back line that played in front of sophomore goalkeeper Alex Latham to hold the Aggies scoreless in the second half. Latham played the second half after senior Brooke Bourbonais got her second start between the posts.

Offensively, NSU attempted just five shots and two on goal compared to A&M’s 23 shots (12 on goal). But Van Linder said increased defensive pressure and continuity displayed in the second half will create more offensive opportunities for a team that features 24 underclassmen on its 31-player roster.

“The big thing is we want to get more pressure on our opponent (offensively). We had a few good moments, and in the bigger games, you’re only going to get a few good moments and we have to capitalize,” Van Linder said following Sunday’s game. “With some extra work, growth and experience, hopefully we’ll be ready next time.

“We’ll take this into LSU and hopefully play a good 90 minutes as opposed to a good 75 or 80 minutes.”

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