Soccer Bulldogs Turn Back South Carolina, 2-1

STARKVILLE, Miss. - Betty Ann Casey and Kevyn Shelledy each scored goals less than three minutes apart midway through the first half and Mississippi State held off a furious comeback effort by visiting South Carolina in the game's final ten minutes to capture its second Southeastern Conference victory of the season with a 2-1 triumph over the Gamecocks Sunday afternoon at the MSU Soccer Field.

The victory marked the third for the Bulldogs (3-9-3, 2-6-0 SEC) this season and gave Mississippi State its first winning streak in its series with South Carolina (5-10-0, 1-7-0) after splitting each of the last four meetings with the Gamecocks. The win, more importantly, brought the Bulldogs within a win of seventh place in the overall SEC standings in the race for their second consecutive SEC Tournament berth.

Casey notched her team-leading fourth goal of the season to take over sole possession of fourth on State's career goals list, while Shelledy's score marked the first game-winning goal in the two-year career of the Tomball, Texas, native. Emily Meyers came within 10 minutes of recording her third shutout of the campaign but, nonetheless, pushed her SEC-leading save total to 104 with four stops against the Gamecocks on Sunday.

"I thought we played with a lot of heart and determination today," said Mississippi State assistant coach Andy Manners. "The first half goals allowed us to play with some confidence the rest of the way out and I thought that may have been the difference in the game. We did what we needed to do to win and we put 90 minutes of hard work in. You can't ask for more than that."

After trading offensive chances here and there throughout the first 27 minutes of the contest, Casey got MSU off the mark in the 28th tick when she took a feed from Heather Ammann and blasted a far post shot off a South Carolina defender and into the back of the net for the 1-0 advantage. State used offensive transition a short time later to give itself another chance and Shelledy took it upon herself, firing a shot from 35 yards out that sailed just over the outstretched fingers of USC goalkeeper Lindsay Thorstenson and into the back of the net for the 2-0 cushion.

Battling back and forth for much of the second period of play, neither team could muster a real chance to score, many times getting close, but each time getting stuffed by the other's defensive backline. South Carolina's Darcel Mollon used some nifty moves in the 81st minute to create a chance for her side, finding Amanda Thurber with a pass at the top of the penalty area to which a falling down Thurber connected on a shot past Meyers to cut the deficit in half and provide the final.

Mississippi State will be back in action on Friday when the Bulldogs head to Nashville, Tenn., for a 7 p.m. matchup with 21st-ranked Vanderbilt (13-3-0, 6-2-0) at the Vanderbilt Soccer Complex. The Maroon and White will return home on Sunday when the Maroon and White faces Kentucky (6-3-7, 2-3-3) in a pivotal inter-divisional matchup at the MSU Soccer Field.

At Starkville, Miss. (MSU Soccer Field)

South Carolina 0 1 - 1
Mississippi State 2 0 - 2

27:54--MSU--Betty Ann Casey (Heather Ammann)
30:10--MSU--Kevyn Shelledy (Unassisted)
80:46--USC--Amanda Thurber (Darcel Mollon)

Shots: USC 13 (Foster 3), MSU 7 (Casey 3).
Shots On Goal: USC 5 (Thurber 2), MSU 2 (Casey, Shelledy).
Corner Kicks: USC 6, MSU 2.
Fouls: USC 12, MSU 17.
Cautions And Ejections: Fancher, MSU (16:50); Ferguson, MSU (44:56); Geldhof, USC (82:11); Ammann, MSU (87:22).
Offsides: USC 2, MSU 0.
Att. * 345.

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