Johanna Hamblett’s second half goal, off an assist from Kennedi Carbin, was all the offense Mississippi State could muster. With the Bulldog defense pitching a shutout it was enough.
The Bulldogs started the game showing aggression with their usual long ball to the corner for Carbin to chase down. Alabama seemed to handle the pressure well by clearing the ball out when necessary. The first ten minutes the ball remained primarily in the Crimson Tide’s side of the field. Both teams showed promise on opportunities but could not quite take shots in time before the opposing defender made the tackle through the first 15 minutes.
The Crimson Tide eventually started connecting passes and finding more and more dangerous areas to work with. Again they could not convert their chances in front of goal as Tanya De Souza punched out a couple of balls and stopped one deflection headed towards the net. The Bulldogs started attacking off the dribble with Carbin and Mallory Eubanks and put a couple of balls into the box.
The game was very clean with two fouls and two corners through the first half hour. Between the two teams the Alabama Crimson Tide looked a lot more poised and calm as they moved the ball to both sides of the field with fluidity and pace. But the Bulldogs were lurking with multiple chances that they just could not connect the last pass which kept the game very, very even. Neither defense made mistakes in 0-0 halftime score.
To start the second half Eubanks dribbled all the way down the field, then laid it off to left midfielder Carbi. On a beautiful ball into the center of the box by the penalty spot, Hamblett slid in and deflected the ball into the right corner of the net just 30 seconds into the second half.
Alabama began dominating possession and stringing along multiple passes to get in great positions near the Bulldogs goal. But State’s Ari “The Tank” Holmes denied anything towards the net and cleared out numerous balls played into the box. Forwards Eubanks and MaKayla Waldner kept the Tide defense nervous and on their toes unable to relax.
Overall play was even with spurts of good possessions, but only Mississippi State converted one. That goal gave the Bulldogs (6-6, 1-4 SEC) their first league victory while Alabama left 7-4-1, 2-2-1.
“What’s happening with our team right now is we’re having to deal with some injuries but you have got to have people step up,” Coach Aaron Gordon said. “We (have) played without Ari, she came back into the line-up tonight which was big for us. But then Emily Malone, a freshman, had to step in for Khalyn Harmon and she played 90 minutes and she was fantastic.”
The Bulldogs will take the rest of this weekend off and prepare to face off with a tough South Carolina team next Thursday night here in Starkville. “South Carolina is just rolling right now so we’ll have our hands full but we’re up for the challenge and we’re excited about hosting them here and looking forward to playing one of the top teams in the country” said Gordon.
The sixth win of this season is the most by fourth-year coach Gordon.null