MSU Soccer Team to Battle Jacksonville State

STARKVILLE, Miss. -­ Fresh off an overtime victory over SEC Eastern Division rival Georgia on Sunday afternoon, the Mississippi State soccer team will step out of conference for a rare midweek outing as the Bulldogs head to Jacksonville, Ala., for a Tuesday evening contest with Jacksonville State.

The game, which was originally scheduled for September 17, was rescheduled due to the high winds and heavy rain brought forth to the state of Alabama by Hurricane Ivan less than two weeks ago. The Bulldogs (4-4-1) and Gamecocks (3-7-0) will meet for the eighth time in a series led by MSU, 5-2.

Mississippi State enters the contest fresh off a weekend split that saw them drop a tough 3-0 outing to No. 16 Tennessee, before rebounding on Sunday with an overtime victory over the Red and Black Bulldogs. The win marked State's fourth at home this season and their second triumph in their last three games this season. Tuesday evening's game against the Gamecocks will mark the first official road contest for the Bulldogs this season after already playing four foes at a pair of neutral sites.

Jacksonville State will engage in their third-straight contest at home, but enters the Tuesday night battle with the Bulldogs riding a five-game losing streak that dates back to a Sept. 12 loss to East Tennessee State in Atlanta, Ga. The Gamecocks will face their second Southeastern Conference opponent in as many weeks after dropping a double overtime heartbreaker to Alabama on Sept. 19 in Tuscaloosa.

"I thought we worked very hard in both games this weekend," said Mississippi State head coach Neil Macdonald. "We were very committed and disciplined, positional-wise, in the transition from offense to defense. Obviously, Emily (Meyers) was a bright spot this weekend with her play in the nets for us, but I thought, as a team, we fought for everything that we got."

Jacksonville State has gotten much of their scoring punch this season from freshman striker Courtney Moore who has three of the Gamecocks' 16 goals this season, as well as an assist. Amanda Stephens has been the workhorse for JSU in the nets so far this season, collecting 27 saves while tallying a 2.23 goals against average.

State continues to be led in the scoring column by junior Betty Ann Casey (3G, 1A) and sophomore Heidi Ondra (3G), but senior defender Karen Sandrik has emerged as a scoring threat for the Bulldogs this season, having netted a pair of gamewinning goals, while adding one of two gamewinning assists against Georgia on Sunday. Junior goalkeeper Emily Meyers, who made her first career start in the nets against the Red and Black, has tallied 18 saves in her last two appearances, including 13 against Georgia.

Following Tuesday evening's matchup, State will return home again to step back into conference play and complete a scheduled four-game homestand. The Bulldogs will battle SEC Western Division rival Arkansas (5-4-1, 1-0-1 SEC) on Friday at 7 p.m., before tangling with fellow divisional rival LSU (5-5-0, 0-2-0) on Sunday at 1 p.m. Admission to all 2004 MSU Soccer home games is free.

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