Bulldogs Tangle with Ole Miss in SEC Finale

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Having already secured its second SEC Tournament berth in school history, the Mississippi State soccer team will close out the conference portion of its 2004 schedule on Friday evening when the Maroon and White suit up to host cross-state nemesis Ole Miss in the annual Magnolia Cup at the MSU Soccer Field.

Prior to Friday evening's conference tilt, all six members of State's Class of 2004 will be honored in a pregame ceremony to highlight Senior Night festivities. Kickoff for the contest has been slated for 7 p.m. and live in-game statistics can be followed via a link at the official Internet home for Mississippi State athletics, www.MStateAthletics.com. Admission to all 2004 MSU Soccer home games is free.

Mississippi State Seniors

Ngum Suh

Morgan McDonald

Karen Sandrik

April Berry

Kristin Peterson

Allison Mullen

On the strengths of last weekend's results against Kentucky and Vanderbilt, both the Bulldogs (7-8-3, 4-5-1 SEC) and Rebels (8-8-2, 4-4-2) officially secured SEC Tournament berths but have the opportunity to improve their seeding in next week's tournament with a win Friday evening. A victory for either team, coupled with an Alabama loss, will boost the victors up to a No. 5 seed for the Auburn-hosted SEC Tournament. MSU currently sits as a No. 7 seed, while UM has clutched onto a No. 6 seeding.

The Bulldogs enter the contest fresh off a weekend split that saw it drop a home contest to Vanderbilt before rallying for a win at Kentucky. The Rebels triumphed over the Wildcats in Oxford, but were forced to settle on a 1-1 tie with the Commodores. Ole Miss, who last sampled defeat two weeks ago on road trips to Alabama and Auburn, will ride a four-game unbeaten streak into Starkville, included in which is a scoreless tie at No. 23 Florida on October 17.

Albeit a 4-1 UM victory in 2001, the series between the duo has been very close as of late with four of the last five clashes being decided by one goal or less. The Rebels hold a 5-3-2 series advantage, but have managed just a 2-1-2 edge since 2000. State last tasted victory against its state counterparts with a 2-1 triumph in overtime on Nov. 2, 2001 at the Ole Miss Soccer Complex.

"We have had a very good week of practice and the girls understand what each game means to their ultimate goal from here on out," said MState head coach Neil Macdonald. "Ole Miss is a well-coached team that has talent at every position on the field and they have proven to be a handful for every opponent they haved faced this season."

Sporting a three-pronged offensive attack, the Rebels have gotten a trio of gamewinning scores apiece from both sophomore midfielder Brittney Potts (10G, 2A) and junior forward Kelly Renie (6G, 5A). Sophomore midfielder Karen Hall has been equally as dangerous on the offensive front, scoring five goals and adding three assists thus far into the campaign.

Freshman Ann Shelton has grabbed a majority of the playing time in the nets for the Rebels this season, tallying a 1.03 goals against average with 67 saves. In addition, Shelton has registered five shutouts and complements that feat with a .779 save percentage.

Although being paced by junior Betty Ann Casey (4G, 6 A) in the points column, the Maroon and White continues to be paced by its arsenal in the midfield. Of State's last 15 goals, 10 have been scored by midfielders, including a pair from the feet of both Berry and sophomore Sara Moore.

Bay St. Louis native Emily Meyers has recorded a bulk of the minutes in the nets for the 'Dogs, producing a 1.64 GAA and 62 saves. Meyers also has a .795 save percentage and three shutouts to her credit.

Following Friday evening's interstate contest, the Bulldogs will close out their regular season schedule on Sunday when they welcome Georgia State (7-6-5) to the Mississippi State Soccer Field. Kickoff for that contest is set for 1 p.m.

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