The setback dropped State to 10th overall in its race for the SEC Tournament, which welcomes the top eight teams from the regular season based on a preset points system (3 points for win, 1 point for loss). The Maroon and White are one point behind an eighth-place tie with Arkansas and Georgia and are three points behind fourth-place Kentucky.
"I thought we played very well in first half," said Mississippi State head coach Neil Macdonald. "I don't think the final score was very indicative of how we played, but Florida is a great team. It's tough to lose a game that you play so well in, but as long as we take something from this game, it keeps us going down the right path."
Neither team could gain an advantage in first half play as the squads combined for just four shots heading into the halftime break, with three coming from the feet of Florida attackers. State would get the first quality chance for either team just 16 minutes into the period, but UF goaltender Brittni Goodwin barely got a touch on Betty Ann Casey's shot to keep the score at a deadlock. The Gators would get a high-percentage chance from Jasmine Johnson with 12:12 remaining, but her seven-yard blast sailed just high of the MSU crossbar.
After a scoreless first half kept much of the 1,892 fans on hand in their seats, Florida got on the board just less than three minutes into the second stanza when Monica Hoyles and Ashley Kellgren connected on passes before Kellgren fed a ball through to Johnson who tapped in a two-yard strike. Eighteen minutes later, the Gators would pad their lead on a Freeman blast from 30 yards out that found the upper-90 of the Msu goal post.
The Bulldogs struck back and scratched their way on to the scoreboard when Smith and Betty Ann Casey strung together a pair of passes, before a Casey through ball found the feet of a sliding Berry who found space past a charging UF defender. However, Florida would put the game out of reach in the 72nd minute on Melanie Booth's direct kick to the far post, then added an insurance score in the 83rd minute on Freeman's second goal of the contest.
MState will return to action on Sunday afternoon when the club closes out a four-game road trip at South Carolina (6-8-2, 0-5-2) inside USC's Eugene E. Stone III Stadium. Kickoff has been set for 1 p.m. EST and game action can be followed via a live stats link at the official Internet home for Mississippi State Athletics, www.MStateAthletics.com.
At Gainesville, Fla. (Pressly Stadium)
MISSISSIPPI STATE 0 1 - 1
#23 FLORIDA 0 4 - 4
47:59 UF Jasmine Johnson (Monica Hoyles, Ashley Kellgren)
66:31 UF Stephanie Freeman (Jamie Garside)
68:46 MSU April Berry (Danielle Smith, Betty Ann Casey)
71:30 UF Melanie Booth (Unassisted)
82:23 UF Stephanie Freeman (Jasmine Johnson)
Shots: MSU 2 (Casey, Berry), UF 10 (J. Johnson, Freeman 2). Shots On Goal: MSU 2 (Casey, Berry), UF 5 (Freeman 2). Saves: MSU 1 (Dallas), UF 1 (Goodwin). Corner Kicks: MSU 2, UF 14. Fouls: MSU 10, UF 11. Cautions And Ejections: None. Att. 1,892.