11th Ranked Gators too Much for MSU Soccer

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Cherry Pickman scored two second half goals to cushion a 2-0 halftime lead and the 11th-ranked Gators held back homestanding Mississippi State to spoil Senior Night for the Maroon and White with a 4-0 victory Friday evening at the MSU Soccer Field.

Despite the loss, Mississippi State (2-9-3, 1-6-0 SEC) remained very much alive in the hunt for its second consecutive SEC Tournament berth, while the Gators (10-3-1, 6-1-1) crept within three points of the overall lead in the league standings with the victory. It was the Gators second-straight win against Mississippi State after falling 1-0 to the Bulldogs in the last Starkville meeting in 2003.

State fell to 3-2-1 in Senior Night outings since 2000 with the setback, but remained within a win of seriously contending for the eighth and final SEC Tournament berth. MSU goalkeeper Emily Meyers used two saves against the Gators to push her season total to the century mark, becoming the sixth MState goalkeeper all-time to reach that plateau.

"I am disappointed with the way we played tonight simply because I thought we played so well for long stretches of time, and then we had a mental error that would kill us," said Mississippi State head coach Neil Macdonald. "We are learning the system more and more every time we play, but we are still making rookie mistakes and that is unacceptable."

Mississippi State looked to have taken the lead early on, but Kevyn Shelledy's header goal was nullified with an offsides call from the far linesman. Despite a handful of shots by the visitors, the Maroon and White kept the Gators at bay for 25 minutes, until Melanie Booth got behind State's backline and sucked up a through pass from Katie Green before hitting the back of the net on a shot to the far post.

The Bulldogs would shut down the Gators for much of the rest of the way out in the opening period until the Gators snuck one in 18 second before the intermission when Bianca Gibbs' struck a ball that hit MSU defender Meredith Jacobson and ricocheted into the net despite a diving effort by State goalkeeper Emily Meyers.

Flying high with the 2-0 lead at the break, Florida came out with the same intentions in the second stanza, padding its lead out to three on Pickman's first goal of the night, one-timing a pass from Ashley Harris just inches in front of the end line. Pickman surprised herself and much of her Florida teammates 22 minutes later when she struck a ball from 20 yards out that MSU netminder Stephanie Dallas appeared to control, but the ball took a wicked angle at the last second and somehow deflected off of Dallas' hands into the goal.

Mississippi State will return to action on Sunday when the Bulldogs entertain SEC East rival South Carolina (5-9-0, 1-6-0) in a key intra-divisional contest at the MSU Soccer Field. The game is set to be regionally televised by Fox SportsNet South with an approximate 1:05 p.m. kickoff.

SCORING SUMMARY
At Starkville, Miss. (MSU Soccer Field)

Florida 2 2 - 4
Mississippi State 0 0 - 0

25:19--UF--Melanie Booth (Katie Green)
44:42--UF--Bianca Gibbs (Unassisted)
48:37--UF--Cherry Pickman (Megan Kerns, Ashley Harris)
78:00--UF--Cherry Pickman (Unassisted)

Shots: UF 15 (Kerns 4), MSU 4 (Odom 2).
Shots On Goal: UF 8 (Pickman, Sawai, Gibbs 2), MSU 2 (Odom, Ferguson 1).
Saves: UF 2 (Goodwin), MSU 4 (Meyers, Dallas 2).
Corner Kicks: UF 11, MSU 1.
Fouls: UF 17, MSU 11.
Cautions And Ejections: None.
Offsides: UF 1, MSU 3.
Att. * 316.


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