Bulldogs Fall to Tennessee in SEC Opener, 3-0

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Ali Christoph's goal in the 43rd minute of play gave homestanding Tennessee a lead it would never relinquish as the Lady Vols used a high pressure offense and an unrelenting defense to knock off visiting Mississippi State, 3-0, in the Southeastern Conference opener for both sides Friday evening at the Regal Soccer Complex on the campus of the University of Tennessee.

The Lady Vols (3-4-1, 1-0-0 SEC) produced a 28-2 shot disparity in recording their fourth-straight victory over Mississippi State (1-4-3, 0-1-0), while also falling one corner kick shy of setting a school record of 16 set in the program's first match against Chattanooga on August 30, 1996. The loss dropped the Maroon and White's record in league openers out to 2-9, while the Big Orange improved to 6-4 in such outings.

"I thought we did a good job of competing with them in the second half, but I was very disappointed with the way we came into this game tonight," said Mississippi State head coach Neil Macdonald. "I think everyone found out tonight what it is going to take to compete in the SEC and, hopefully, we can use this experience as a building block for the rest of the slate. Tennessee has been the team to beat in this conference the past three seasons and tonight we found out why."

Tennessee started its barrage of shots early, with sophomore forward Emily Redberg missing high on the first good opportunity in the 10th minute from seven yards out after a cross from fellow sophomore Genna Gorman. In the 15th minute, freshman forward Jackie Acevedo drove from midfield past the MState defense and fired just inside the penalty box, but State netminder Emily Meyers dove to her left for a phenomenal save.

Christoph finally broke through in the 43rd minute with her first goal of the campaign when she blasted a shot from 20 yards out past Meyers to put UT up, 1-0. The Lady Vols would take the 1-0 advantage, as well as an 11-0 shot total, into the intermission.

The second half started out as much of the same as the Lady Vols watched two shots miss high from point blank range. In the 51st minute, Kylee Rossi saw her header sail just above the crossbar after a Gorman corner kick. Five minutes later, Redberg had another header shot inside of six yards go just high of the crossbar.

The attack never let up, and, in the 81st minute, Rossi finally doubled the lead, taking a ball at the top of the box after controlling a thru ball from junior Jenny Jeffers. Melissa Amado closed out the scoring in the 86th minute when she headed in Christoph's corner kick for the senior defender's first goal of the season.

The Lady Vol defense extended its streak of no shots allowed started against Washington on Sunday until the 53:35 mark Friday when MSU's Marycle Stein's shot from inside the penalty box went just wide. Up to that point, Tennessee had not conceded a shot in more than 126 minutes.

Mississippi State will return to action on Sunday afternoon when the Maroon and White continues a four-game road swing with Georgia (6-2-1, 0-0-1) in a 1 p.m. EST contest at the Georgia Soccer Stadium. MState is 2-5-0 all-time in its series with Georgia, but has won each of the last two contests, including a 2-0 win in Athens during the 2003 campaign.

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