Are you surprised with how well your team came out and played after two tough losses on the road, one against top-ranked North Carolina?
I'm not surprised, no, but I'm delighted about the way we approached it. We obviously sat in in the second half. We knew that we were going to be struggling from a physical standpoint. We played two of the best teams in the nation this weekend. We were definitely exhausted. We came back Monday and we didn't do anything. We played tonight. We have another game on Friday. It was very important that we sit in and believe in the system. And we believed in the system tonight and it worked. It just proves that the 4-5-1 (defense), and everything we've been working on defensively, is going to be effective for us.
Did you substitute more than normal tonight because they were exhausted or because of the defensive play?
Just a little bit of the exhaustion. I think we needed to keep rotating people in. It was always going to be important that we did that. Again, it proved to be a success.
I've been impressed with your goalkeeper, Stephanie Dallas. Tell me a little bit about her play so far this season.
She's doing a tremendous job. She's a freshman goalkeeper. She's gaining in experience everyday. Her one weak spot, probably, is on some high balls at times. She needs to learn to move her feet a little bit better. But, overall, she's a fantastic shot stopper. We're delighted with her progress.
I've also noticed Jessica Davis. Can you tell me more about her play?
Jessica played for an excellent club in Dallas, Texas. She's a very solid player tactically and technically. She understands the game. She's developing. She's got a ways to go as well, but she's certainly performing well.
What was the reaction of your players after going up against North Carolina?
After halftime, they were thrilled. When you look at the statistics of North Carolina--for us to go out there and match them for 45 minutes--again, it's the system. It's a defensive system that causes all the problems for teams. To hold them was a tremendous testament to how hard the girls are working. They were, at halftime, thrilled. I think it's done nothing but help build confidence.
Did you see that when they came out and played tonight?
I think so. I think they're now starting to believe in themselves and in each other. I've always felt that there was a confidence issue with some of them. We're encouraging them as much as we can to develop that side of their game--to relax and take the proper options on the ball. They're starting to do that.
True freshman Brandi Parker, who was injured coming into the season, played tonight. Didn't she also play against North Carolina?
She came back against Southern California. That was the first time she played. She did a fantastic job. She's obviously not 100% fit yet, but when she gets back, she will give us another completely different dynamic up top.
What is she lacking now? The conditioning, and maybe her speed?
Yes, just the basic conditioning. That will come through her getting in here for 15-20 minutes at a time and her running hard while she's in. Obviously, in practice, we're pushing her hard as well. Our big goal was to get her back for SEC play and, hopefully, she'll be there.
What does she bring to the team?
She's incredibly passionate about the game. She has an incredible work ethic. She works off the ball all the time. When she loses the ball, she doesn't stop. She'll fight to get the ball back. She's got lightning feet for the first four yards. She'll outrun many, many defenders this year. It's just a matter of her getting fit. She's very good in front of the goal.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
STARKVILLE, Miss. Senior Karen Sandrik and freshman Kevyn Shelledy both nabbed first half goals to forge a 2-0 lead for State at the halftime break, but the Bulldogs held off a furious second half comeback effort by visiting Memphis to secure a 2-0 victory Tuesday evening at the Mississippi State Soccer Field.
Sandrik netted her second gamewinner of the season in the eighth minute of play, while Shelledy notched her first career goal in the 25th tick. Rookie netminder Stephanie Dallas picked up her first collegiate shutout with a brilliant performance behind an unforgiving backline and collected six saves in the process.
The win snapped a four-game winless skid for the Bulldogs (3-3-1) who last picked up a win on August 29 against Northwestern State at home. The victory also gave the Bulldogs their 11th win in the last 14 games in Starkville. It also marked the first consecutive victories for the Maroons in their series with Memphis (4-2-0) since the 1995 and 1996 matchups. State now leads its series with the Tigers, 5-3-2.
After spotting Memphis a shot and a corner kick to begin the first half of play, State capitalized quickly when April Berry found Sandrik wide open on the left wing and the senior finished with a brilliant strike to the far post that caught Tiger goalkeeper Natalie Haerens off her line and hit the back of the net.
Just less than 17 minutes later, the Bulldogs would strike again when Sara Moore found space to dribble up the far sideline. On the run, Moore delivered a brilliant service that found the foot of Shelledy who finished with a one-timer from six yards out to give MSU a two-goal cushion that would hold up into the halftime break. The Bulldogs would take a 6-4 shot advantage into the intermission as well.
Having come out of the gates on fire, the Tigers took the first five shots of the second stanza, but none seriously threatened the Maroon and White nets due to the play of Dallas. The Tigers would put together their only serious threat of the game 13 minutes into the period when Madison Cheek got off a 12-yard scorcher, but Dallas stood on her line and calmly collected the strike.
Mississippi State will return to action on Friday evening when the Bulldogs head to Jacksonville State (3-4-0) for its first official road contest of the season. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at the JSU Soccer Complex barring any interference from Hurricane Ivan which is expected to make its way through the northern part of Alabama early Friday morning.
At Starkville, Miss. (MSU Soccer Field)
Memphis 0 0 - 0
Mississippi State 2 0 - 2
7:11 MSU Karen Sandrik (April Berry)
24:01 MSU Kevyn Shelledy (Sara Moore)
Shots: MEM 14 (Greenwell, Cheek 3), MSU 9 (Sandrik, Casey 2). Shots On Goal: MEM 7 (Greenwell, Cheek 2), MSU 4 (Sandrik 2). Saves: MEM 2 (Haerens, Briones), MSU 7 (Dallas 6). Corner Kicks: MEM 7, MSU 2. Fouls: MEM 6, MSU 10. Cautions And Ejections: MSU, Ondra (51:28). Att. 419.
Source: MSU Media Relations