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."