The game was preceded with the suspensions of three MSU freshmen as announced by head coach Neil Macdonald. Eleven-game starter Mary Kate Ayers, Southaven native Courtney Benefield and Texan Mallory Staub all missed the MSU/Kentucky match-up on Sunday for a violation of team rules. Their status for the rest of the season will be determined later this week.
"This result is disheartening because every one of the players knew that this was going to be our biggest game of the season," Macdonald said. "We gave away three goals on silly mistakes and it dug us a hole we couldn't climb out of. Give credit to Kentucky though. Their backs were against the wall too and they responded."
Kentucky needed just three minutes of the first half clock to take an early lead. On a team attack, Nathalie Bolder collected a deflection off an MSU defender and dribbled five yards before serving a ball into the penalty area that found the head of Lanphier. The Bulldogs would answer just less than nine minutes later, however, when Betty Ann Casey served a ball to the far post and Heather Ammann finished off the scoring chance with a score that knotted the game back up.
The Blue and White continued its offensive, though, and retook the lead seven minutes later on a failed clearance by MState. Sarah Gaunt found the loose ball and quickly lofted a pass inside the six-yard box to Lanphier who rifled a shot past Meyers for the go-ahead score. Fourteen minutes later, Megan Jones' pass across the front of the goalmouth was ill-timed by Meyers, allowing Katie Hughes a far post shot that gave the ‘Cats a 3-1 lead heading into the break.
State came out of the halftime gates with a vengeance, tallying four shots and a pair of corner kicks before the Wildcats knew what hit them but, each time, Kentucky nullified State's offensive sparks despite deep penetration by the Bulldogs into UK's offensive third. After back-and-forth action for much of the second stanza, Kentucky would ice the game in the 75th minute when Kelsey Fenix was the benefactor of pinball action in front of the net, deflecting a shot to the near post for the 4-1 final.
Mississippi State will close out the road portion of its regular season schedule on Friday evening when the Bulldogs head to Oxford for a Magnolia Cup showdown with cross-state nemesis and 23rd-ranked Ole Miss (14-3-1, 8-1-1) at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium. Kickoff for the 12th renewal of the rivalry has been slated for 7 p.m.
At Starkville, Miss. (MSU Soccer Field)
Kentucky 3 1 - 4
Mississippi State 1 0 - 1
Kentucky - Lanphier (3, 19), Hughes (33), Fenix (75)
Mississippi State - Ammann (12)