MSU Soccer Loses Two, But Wins Respect

The Mississippi State soccer team (2-3-1) went into the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic knowing that it would be tough to come away with a victory with games against college soccer powerhouses Southern Cal and 18-time national champion North Carolina. Although they left the Classic with two 4-1 losses, they came away with respect and the knowledge that they can play with the best.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ­ Southern Cal tallied two goals in each half of play, including a pair of first half strikes by Rosa Anna Tantillo, to dig the Mississippi State Soccer team a hole it would never climb out of as the Women of Troy opened the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic with a 4-1 triumph over the Bulldogs Friday evening at the Tennessee Soccer Complex.

USC (3-2-0), which looked sluggish in a pair of home matches last weekend in Los Angeles, outshot the Maroon and White (2-2-1) 11-2 in the opening half and 13-3 in the second period. The Bulldogs got a goal with just more than eight minutes remaining from rookie Jennifer Turpin to spoil USC's bid for its first shutout of the campaign.

"These kind of games are always going to be learning experiences," said MState head coach Neil Macdonald. "USC is a very good soccer team that plays a very pure game. I felt that we ran with them. The scoring line is a little bit of an unfair reflection of how the game unfolded. A huge positive for us tonight is that everybody saw the field. Everyone now knows what it takes to play at the highest level.

"As the game went on, we started to relax and started to play some quality soccer. As long as we come out of here having learned something, that's a positive."

After trading offensive chances through the first 19 minutes of the opening stanza, the Women of Troy finally capitalized when Tantillo hit a seeing-eye scorcher through a miniscule hole in the MSU defense and found paydirt for the 1-0 lead. Still reeling from the score, USC took advantage of a wounded Bulldog squad with another Tantillo score 70 seconds later. USC's leading scorer heading into the contest, Tantillo found luck when a misplayed clearance found her feet and she finished with a strike to the far post.

USC would stretch its lead out to three in the 57th tick after a phenomenal service from Shannon Cross found the feet of Tina Sutorius who finished with a one-timer for the 3-0 cushion. Sixteen minutes later, Cross would get a score of her own, converting a penalty kick after a Sheri Toler foul inside the penalty area set the Women of Troy up.

Turpin, who scored her first collegiate point on an assist against Wisconsin-Milwaukee a week ago, scored her first career goal in the 82nd minute, finishing off passes from both Kevyn Shelledy and Sheri Toler with a shot to the far post upper-90 to provide the game's final score.

At Knoxville, Tenn. (Tennessee Soccer Complex)

Southern Cal 2 2 - 4
Mississippi State 0 1 - 1

19:34 USC Rosa Anna Tantillo (Lindsay Parker)
20:44 USC Rosa Anna Tantillo (Lauren Shepherson)
56:50 USC Tina Sutorius (Shannon Cross)
72:38 USC Shannon Cross (Penalty Kick)
81:59 MSU Jennifer Turpin (Kevyn Shelledy, Sheri Toler)

Shots: USC 24 (Casas 4), MSU 5 (Five Players). Shots On Goal: USC 13 (Casas 4), MSU 3 (Three Players). Corner Kicks: USC 10, MSU 2. Saves: USC 2 (Simonton), MSU 9 (Dallas 7). Fouls: USC 10, MSU 7. Cautions and Ejections: None.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. ­ The Mississippi State Soccer team became just the second team to light up the scoreboard in the last 12 games against 18-time national champion North Carolina, but the Tar Heels broke open a dogfight with three goals in the second half en route to a 4-1 win over the Maroon and White Sunday afternoon at the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic in Knoxville, Tenn.

Senior Kristin Peterson's first half score was just the third goal allowed by the Tar Heels (5-0-1) this season and, in the process, State (2-3-1) became just the second team in 2004 to add a number to the scoreboard, joining California who posted two scores against the 18-time national champions two weeks ago. State also joined an elite group of just four SEC teams (Florida, Tennessee, Arkansas) to post a goal in its respective series with the Tar Heels.

Peterson and fellow senior Morgan McDonald were among 11 players selected to the First Tennessee Lady Vol Classic All-Tournament team, joining a trio of players from both Tennessee and the top-ranked Tar Heels. North Carolina, who posted a 1-0-1 record on the weekend, was declared tournament champions by virtue of a goal differerential tiebreaker.

"I thought that we played very well against them," said MState head coach Neil Macdonald following the contest. "Anytime you play North Carolina, it is comparable to playing the US national team because of the caliber and athleticism of their entire squad. But, we made them work for everything they got today. Our system worked very well, but we were a little unlucky at times.

"Going into this weekend, we knew both of these games, especially this one, needed to be a learning experience for our team. I think we were successful with that because I think we came out of the weekend a much better team."

North Carolina took the game's first lead less than three minutes in when Olympic gold medalist Lindsay Tarpley scored her first goal of the season, collecting a loose ball after a Carolina corner kick and lacing a shot to the near post for the 1-0 advantage. State would need less than eight minutes to counter the score, however, when Peterson caught a loose ball off the back of April Berry and fired a shot to the far post that sailed just over the outstretched fingers of all-American goalkeeper Aly Winget to knot the score back up. The tie would last into the halftime break.

The Tar Heels took just three minutes off of the second period scoreboard clock before finding the go-ahead goal, this time using the talents of Kacey White, who found a pass from Olympic team member Heather O'Reilly and fired a shot from 19 yards out to put her team up by one. Lori Chalupny would add an insurance goal eight minutes later on a shuffle in front of the Maroon and White nets, collecting a loose ball and using the woodwork to give Carolina a 3-1 advantage.

Kendall Fletcher added the game's final score in the 87th minute, redirecting a pinball corner kick past an unsuspecting Dallas to provide the final score.

"I thought they did an extraordinary job against us," said North Carolina head coach Anson Dorrance. "If you came and saw the first half, you would have seen a tremendous amount of passion that Mississippi State played with. For them to come into the half against us with a 1-1 tie is a huge compliment to them. (Coming into this game), we had played five games and had only given up two goals. We have shut out most of our opponents, so for them to come out of the game having scored, I think that is a great achievement.

"We have a lot of respect for their players. They play with passion. They have some great strength and athleticism and we were very impressed. We hope they have a fine season."

Mississippi State will return to action on Tuesday evening when the Bulldogs make a home appearance for the first time since August 29 when they welcome regional rival Memphis (4-1-0) to the MSU Soccer Field. Game time for the contest has been set for 7 p.m. and admission to all 2004 Mississippi State Soccer home games is free.

At Knoxville, Tenn. (Tennessee Soccer Complex)

Mississippi State 1 0 - 1
North Carolina 1 3 - 4

2:55 UNC Lindsay Tarpley (Jaime Gilbert)
10:20 MSU Kristin Peterson (April Berry)
48:04 UNC Kacey White (Heather O'Reilly)
56:19 UNC Lori Chalupny (Lindsay Tarpley)
86:25 UNC Kendall Fletcher (Anne Felts)

Shots: UNC 26 (Tarpley 5), MSU 6 (Peterson 3). Shots On Goal: UNC 13 (Tarpley and White 3), MSU 3 (Peterson 2). Saves: UNC 2 (Winget), MSU 9 (Dallas). Corner Kicks: UNC 13, MSU 1. Fouls: UNC 12, MSU 4. Cautions and Ejections: None.

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