STARKVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi State (1-0) erupted for three first half goals, then added a pair of insurance goals in the second half, to take a 5-1 decision from Tulane (0-1) in the season opener for both teams Friday afternoon at the Mississippi State Soccer Field.

Freshman Amy Van Zandt netted three goals to record State's first hat trick since Shannon Walsh accomplished the feat on Oct. 16, 1996, against Chattanooga. The victory was the Bulldogs' second-straight in season-opening contests and ran their record in such games above the .500 mark (4-3). The game also marked the Division I head coaching debut for Tulane's Betsy Anderson.

"Our team performance was the finest I've seen," said State head coach Neil cGuire. "Individually, everybody contributed and played to a level that they are now beginning to expect from themselves."

Mississippi State got off the mark quickly when Van Zandt finished off an assist from fellow freshman and high school teammate Jessi Moore in the sixth minute (5:36) to give State a 1-0 lead. Tulane matched the goal just more than eight minutes later (13:39) when Kelly Smith and Megan Stack used a pair of passes to find Tracey Powers who finished with a blast into the left side from close range.

However, State rallied for four unanswered goals, two of which came from the foot of Van Zandt, and rallied behind its defense to finish out the season-opening victory. Following a goal by Van Zandt in the 22nd minute (21:38), State got a goal by Kristin Peterson in the 32nd minute (32:00) to take a 3-1 lead into the break, then took an insurmountable 4-1 lead in the 56th tick (55:06) on a goal by sophomore Sam Schwenke.

Van Zandt finished off her hat trick in the 82nd minute (81:59) on a 28-yard direct kick that found its way through the hands of Green Wave goalkeeper Sara Simpson.

"Today, our ladies played soccer with a great level of maturity," said State head coach Neil McGuire. "They didn't allow outside influences such as heavy rain and field conditions to affect them. Our focus was exceptional."

Mississippi State will return to action on Sunday when the squad suits up to host visiting Arkansas-Little Rock at the Mississippi State Soccer Field. Game time is set for 1 p.m. Admission to all 2001 Mississippi State home soccer games is free of charge.

At Starkville, Miss. (Mississippi State Soccer Field)

TULANE 1 0 - 1

MSU: Amy Van Zandt (Moore), 5:36
TUL: Tracey Powers (Smith, Stack), 13:39
MSU: Van Zandt (Berry), 21:38
MSU: Kristin Peterson (Suh), 32:00
MSU: Sam Schwenke (Rose), 55:06
MSU: Van Zandt (unassisted), 81:59

SHOTS: TU 8 (Powers 4), MSU 21 (Van Zandt 8). CORNER KICKS: TU 2, MSU 2. GOALKEEPER SAVES: TU 10 (Obrofta), MSU 3 (Werges). FOULS: TU 12, MSU 10. OFFSIDES: TU 5, MSU 0. Att. - 135.

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