MSU Soccer Battles Florida on Senior Night

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Charged by a hard fought 2-1 victory over Alabama on Sunday that gave the Bulldogs its first league win of the 2005 campaign, the Mississippi State soccer team will continue a four-game homestand on Friday evening when the Maroon and White welcomes 11th-ranked Florida to the Mississippi State Soccer Field for a key Southeastern Conference tilt at 7 p.m.

MState (2-8-3, 1-5-0 SEC) will renew its rivalry with the Gators (9-3-1, 4-1-1) for the seventh time in Starkville, looking to build on its triumph over the Crimson Tide over the weekend. The game is set to be regionally televised by Sun Sports-TV with an approximate 7:06 start time and the contest can also be followed via a live stats link at the official Internet home for the Mississippi State athletic department,

Friday's pregame festivities will be highlighted by a Senior Night ceremony where MSU's Class of 2005 - Heather Ammann, Betty Ann Casey, Emily Meyers and Meghan Odom - will be honored. The game will mark Florida's first trip to Starkville since the then-#6 Gators were upset by the ‘Dogs, 1-0, in 2003. UF leads the all-time series by a 5-1-0 count, but have split a pair of meetings with MSU in Starkville.

Admission to all 2005 Mississippi State soccer home games is free.

"Without a doubt, Florida is the fastest and most athletic team you will find in the SEC," said Mississippi State head coach Neil Macdonald. "Their athleticism and physical play is enough to intimidate a lot of teams, but I would hope that our girls would step up to that challenge, especially after their performance against Alabama on Sunday. From watching that game, I feel like we have turned the corner and we're ready to step up to that next level now."

To make that transition, the Bulldogs will have to deal with one of the conference's top scoring offenses that has been paced by a plethora of individuals across the board. The Gator attack has been stemmed by junior Melanie Booth (4 G, 3 A) and senior Cherry Pickman (3 G, 4 A), but Florida has eight other individuals that have tallied two or more goals this season. Florida scores an impressive 2.38 goals per game, while holding their opponents to a lone score.

Defensively, the Gators will counter State's offense with either of two goalkeepers, both of whom have split time in the nets for the Orange and Blue. Senior Jen Gardner (1.30 GAA, 26 saves) has gotten a majority of the playing time, while junior Brittni Goodwin (1.10, 25) has handled the rest. Florida has recorded six team shutouts this season, mainly paced by a stingy and unforgiving back line.

Macdonald and the Mississippi State soccer team are calling on all Maroon and White supporters to help the program and its mission to 'Stuff The Stands' of the MSU Soccer Field when the Bulldogs battle the 11th-ranked Gators.

"We want to create an environment that is second to none in welcoming Florida to Starkville," Macdonald said. "We want to try to not only beat our attendance record (743), but also be the first team to draw more than 1,000 fans to our field. Our fans are, without a doubt, the best in the SEC and this is their chance to show that in front of a regional television audience."

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