STARKVILLE, Miss. Karen Sandrik's first career goal highlighted a three-goal second half rapture for the Mississippi State Soccer team as the Bulldogs ran away with a game it dominated from the opening whistle before finally settling on a 3-1 triumph over Northwestern State Sunday afternoon at the Mississippi State Soccer Field.
Although scoring just the trio of goals, the Maroon and White (2-0-0) dominated both halves in the shot column, out-chancing the Demons (0-2-0) 19-1 in the first half and 18-3 in the second period. Betty Ann Casey put together her second career multi-goal outing and senior Morgan McDonald collected her first career point on an assist late in the game. Sandrik's score was also her first gamewinning goal as well.
Sandrik's score at the 86:57 mark, coupled with Casey's second goal at 87:11, also marked the fastest consecutive goals in the history of the MSU Soccer program, having come just 14 seconds apart from one another. MSU's 37 shots were also its most since accumulating 39 against Chattanooga on Oct. 19, 1996.
"I thought that we played well from start to finish," said MState head coach Neil Macdonald. "We didn't have that final finishing touch in the first half, but I thought that we stuck to our gameplan in spite of that. It was a good solid team performance all around."
State took the first nine shots of the contest, including a close range header from Heather Ammann that caught the woodwork and careened out of danger at the 9:35 mark, but it was Northwestern State that was the first to score. Natalie Waguespack fired a 35-yard prayer towards the MSU net in the 22nd minute that found itself between the outstretched fingers of Bulldog netminder Stephanie Dallas and the fiberglass fibers of the crossbar to give the Demons a 1-0 lead they would carry into the break.
State had multiple chances to knot the score back up over the course of the stanza, but each time were denied by a very tough Johnna Klohoker who would finish the game with a MSU Soccer Field-record 16 saves. State, who was firing on all cylinders from a organizational standpoint all day, took the last 10 shots of the opening half as well.
Bad luck would follow the Bulldogs into the second period of play as the Bulldogs were left wanting on their first 11 shots of the period, but Casey finally got the Bulldogs off the mark when she took a dazzling assist from McDonald and fired a shot near post to tie the score at one apiece in the 73rd tick. With a flurry of action that followed, Sandrik took the go-ahead task upon herself in the 87th minute, firing a shot far post from 35-yards out that Klohoker could only watch hit paydirt.
On the ensuing kickoff, State overtook possession quickly when April Berry found Casey with a through ball and the senior finished with a scorcher to the far post to provide the insurance goal.
Mississippi State will return to action on Friday when the Bulldogs pack up their show and head to Lawrence, Kan., for the University of Kansas Tournament. The Maroons will open tournament play on Friday at 2:30 p.m. against Saint Louis (0-0-1) and will close out their portion of round-robin play on Sunday at 11 a.m. against Wisconsin-Milwaukee (1-1-0). All four games of the tournament will be played at Kansas' SuperTarget Field.
At Starkville, Miss. (MSU Soccer Field)
Northwestern State (0-2-0) 1 0 - 1
Mississippi State (2-0-0) 0 3 - 3
21:02 NSU Natalie Waguespack (Unassisted)
72:41 MSU Betty Ann Casey (Morgan McDonald)
86:57 MSU Karen Sandrik (Unassisted)
87:11 MSU Betty Ann Casey (April Berry)
Shots: NSU 4 (Four Players), MSU 37 (Casey 8). Shots On Goal: NSU 3 (Three Players), MSU 20 (Casey 5). Saves: NSU 17 (Klohoker 16), MSU 2 (Dallas). Corner Kicks: NSU 3, MSU 5. Fouls: NSU 9, MSU 6. Cautions And Ejections: MSU, Casey (67:56). Offsides: NSU 0, MSU 0. Att. 341.
Source: MSU Media Relations
Post-game Q&A with MSU head coach Neil MacDonald
Tell us a little about the game.
I thought we played very, very well. From the starting whistle to the last whistle we played a very good offensive game. We did the things we've been working on in practice. We just didn't have the final finishing touch on a lot of plays. That's typical. It's early on in the season, but I thought overall we played as well as I've ever seen us play.
Do you think the girls were getting a little frustrated in the first half when their shots weren't going in?
I think so, but at the same time I think that all the credit goes to them because at that point it's very easy to start hitting the panic button and start to do things that we're not meant to be doing. People start to do too much on the ball and we didn't do that. We stayed relaxed, we kept sticking to our game plan, and in the end we got the win because of it.
Which of your players impressed you the most today?
I thought it was a great all-around team performance. April Berry was great again. She's really leading in the center of the park. I think it was just a good solid team performance all-around from everybody. Jessica Davis, who's a freshman, came off the bench again today. She's played well in both games this weekend at right box. I think that's fairly encouraging.
What did you think about Northwestern's play?
They sat in and they frustrated us. And if I was coaching them, that's what I would have done as well. I would have got numbers behind the ball. You saw in the corner kicks, they had everybody back, and they fought hard. I give credit to them. They did what they needed to do.
During the second half, they seemed to become more offensive. And that's when you scored your three goals.
That's just the nature of the game. We had so much of the possession and so much of the play. When we had a bad spell for five minutes and we kind of let them back in, they opened up a little bit, started to come further up the field, and that left gaps and holes for us to get in to. I think that worked out well for us.
Like Friday's game, you had to come from behind. Obviously, it's not your strategy to have to come from behind.
The goal that they scored today was very fortunate. It was a looping ball. I'm not overly sure that she meant to (score a goal). And the goal on Friday was a deflection. That's just part of the game.
Freshman Brandi Parker's been out due to an injury. When do you expect her to be ready to play?
I'm hoping that she has a good week of practice right now. She's cleared to practice with us. We're just waiting for the doctor to clear her to play (in a game).
Prior to the season, finishing plays was a concern of yours. After seeing so many missed shots today, do you still think that is one of your concerns?
Yes, it is. It's early in the year and I think that we've always had problems with finishing. We've been addressing our final ball in and actually creating chances. At least we know we're doing that because we're getting 35-37 shots on goal in 90 minutes. And that is exceptional. We're at a point where we're almost there, and I think there's no doubt that we need to be a little bit more clinical in front of the goal. This could have been a much more relaxed afternoon for everybody if we'd taken our chances earlier on in the game.
Do you feel like your substitutions patterns are pretty much set now?
We try and rotate in the strikers because there's not an awful lot to choose between them. They're all talented and they all work extremely hard. We have that down. We have a good rotation going on there. We're lucky that we have players who are fairly versatile and can play a number of different roles for us. We're getting it, but it'll take time. Some of the freshmen haven't really had an opportunity yet. Some players haven't played. But it's early on in the season.
Mary Ann Swindoll is the editor of Dawgs' Bite, Powered by GenesPage.com, the source for Mississippi State sports on TheInsiders.com sports network. You can contact her by email at email@example.com.