Bulldogs, Samford Battle To 1-1 Tie

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Lauren Fabion's first career goal 18 minutes into the second half of play broke a scoreless tie and gave Samford a lead, but Cassie Applegate's misplayed header 84 seconds later found its way past her own goalkeeper to net the Equalizer for State as both squads battled to a 1-1 double overtime tie Sunday afternoon at the Mississippi State Soccer Field.

The tie marked the second consecutive draw for the Maroon and White (0-0-2) but gave MSU an unbeaten opening weekend for the third consecutive season. The result snapped a two-game winning streak by Samford (1-0-1) in the series with MSU while the overtime contest also marked State's 19th extra time game since the beginning of the 2001 season. MSU is 8-3-8 in overtime matchups in that same time frame.

"I thought we were rather fortunate," said Mississippi State head coach Neil Macdonald. "We had some chances in the first half that we probably should have taken that could have made it a very different game. The longer the game went, the more it looked like we were going to get beat. Samford is a great team that's well-coached and they worked extremely hard today. I was pleased with the fact that we got a lot of younger players into the game. That will pay off for us down the road."

State had its best chance of the ballgame just more than 19 minutes in when, after a cannon shot by Betty Ann Casey, rookie Ashlee Drake deflected the rebound past Samford goalkeeper Emily Morris into the back of the net, but the goal was nullified moments later on an offsides call. The teams would trade chances over the final 26 minutes of the half before going into the halftime break in a scoreless deadlock.

Samford got much of the play in the second half, particularly midway through when Heather Birdsell found herself in open space down the near sideline before hitting a pass through the penalty area to the waiting foot of Fabion for the one timer. A period of excitement would follow and, after MSU penetrated deep into Samford's defensive third, Applegate headed a ball back to Morris for the clearance, but Morris had already committed to coming off her line.

The teams would trade a pair of scoring opportunities in the first overtime period, but all four went for naught. A period of fatigue in the hot afternoon sun would slow the game in the final overtime period before both sides settled for the draw.

Mississippi State will return to action this weekend when it begins a long stretch that has them playing nine of its next 10 games away from Starkville. The Bulldogs will make a trip to Atlanta Friday afternoon for a 4 p.m. ET contest before heading to Mobile, Ala., on Sunday for a 1 p.m. date with South Alabama.

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