MSU Soccer Upends Alabama for First SEC Win

STARKVILLE, Miss. - In a game that featured almost as many fouls as shots taken, Jessica Davis' near post chance in the 70th minute of play gave Mississippi State the lead for good and the Bulldogs got on the board in Southeastern Conference play with its first league win of the season on a 2-1 triumph over Alabama Sunday afternoon at the MSU Soccer Field.

The game was marred by 36 fouls, including 17 by the visitors, but State (2-8-3, 1-5-0 SEC) got the better of the play when it was most important to stretch their unbeaten streak against Alabama (6-5-2, 0-4-2) out to four games, while picking up their first win against the Crimson Tide in Starkville.

Davis' picked up the first game-winning goal of her career, while rookie Bethany Frazier added the first points of her career on a goal in the first half. Betty Ann Casey picked up her sixth career game-winning assist to move her into a first place tie in that category on MSU's career lists. MState goalkeeper Emily Meyers moved herself closer to the 100-save plateau with 10 stops against the Crimson Tide, marking the sixth double-digit save outing of her career.

The win, more importantly, kept MSU very much in the hunt for its second consecutive SEC Tournament berth, catapulting the Bulldogs into a three-way tie for ninth overall. The top eight teams from regular season play, regardless of division, are extended invitations to compete in the SEC Tournament.

"I was very proud of the way we played today as we put in 90 minutes of hard work," said Mississippi State head coach Neil Macdonald. "I thought we passed the ball much better than we have all season and we just played more relaxed today. This win is just what we needed, now we just need to build on it and get a few more wins down the stretch."

Mississippi State set the tone of the game from the get-go, firing off three shots (two on goal) in the game's first three minutes to put the Crimson Tide on its heels. Having traded fouls for much of the outing's next seven minutes, a foul by Alabama's Leigh Alexander put MState in position for what would be its first goal in more than 232 minutes of play as Frazier blasted a 30-yard direct kick over the outstretched hands of UA netminder Kara Gudmens for the early lead. Alabama would get its chances to net the Equalizer but, each time, but Meyers and the MSU defense proved up to the task and nullified any ‘Bama threat.

Although both sides recorded near-misses over the rest of the stanza, the game went into intermission with the Bulldogs clinging to the 1-0 lead, as well as an 11-10 shot advantage. The first period alone, would conclude with 21 total infractions.

‘Bama came out of the halftime gates with a mission, creating a myriad of chances through the first five minutes of play, but State countered with chances of its own, including a cannon shot by Davis in the 56th minute that was cleared off the line by UA midfielder Suzanne Baker. Alabama would find its Equalizer when Libby Probst found Kylie Boyd on a through-pass in the 66th minute of play for a one-on-one opportunity with Meyers, but Davis' score just less than four minutes later would provide a cap to the game scoring.

Mississippi State will continue its four-game homestand this weekend when it welcomes nationally ranked Florida and SEC East rival South Carolina to the MSU Soccer Field for a pair of regionally televised contests. State's 7 p.m. Friday contest with the Gators is slated for a broadcast on Sun Sports, with the Bulldogs and Gamecocks squaring off on SEC-TV in a 1 p.m. Sunday afternoon tilt.

At Starkville, Miss. (MSU Soccer Field)

Alabama 0 1 - 1
Mississippi State 1 1 - 2

9:02 MSU Bethany Frazier (Unassisted)
65:32 UA Kylie Boyd (Libby Probst)
69:28 MSU Jessica Davis (Betty Ann Casey)

Shots: UA 21 (Morrill, Boyd 5), MSU 17 (Davis 5).
Shots On Goal: UA 14 (Boyd 4), MSU 10 (Davis 4).
Saves: UA 8 (Gudmens 7), MSU 13 (Meyers 10).
Corner Kicks: UA 12, MSU 1.
Fouls: UA 17 (Baker 5), MSU 19 (Fancher 6).
Cautions And Ejections: None.
Offsides: UA 2, MSU 0.
Att. * 416.

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