Late Goal Helps MSU Retain Magnolia Cup

OXFORD, Miss. - Chrissy Strini's penalty kick goal in the 52nd minute gave homestanding and 23rd ranked Ole Miss a lead for much of the next 38 minutes of play, but Betty Ann Casey's Equalizer with 42 seconds remaining in regulation helped Mississippi State keep possession of the Magnolia Cup for another year on a 1-1 tie with the Rebels Friday evening at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium.

The result helped the Bulldogs (3-11-4, 2-8-1 SEC) extend their unbeaten streak over the Rebels (14-3-2, 8-1-2) out to three-games, while also giving the Maroon and White its school record fourth tie of the campaign. MSU netminder Emily Meyers tallied five saves on the night to push her season total out to 131, shattering a six-year-old school record of 130 recorded by former all-conference goalkeeper Kirstin Olson in 1999.

"I think we showed how much we wanted this game tonight," said Mississippi State head coach Neil Macdonald. "We never quit and that attitude paid dividends for us in the end. The girls came out extremely focused tonight and were well aware of the task they had ahead of them. We fought until the end of the game and never gave up."

Neither team got the better end of first half play as the period was filled with missed chances throughout. State got things going with a shot from Jessica Davis in the second minute, but the Rebels answered with a shot of their own when Cori Mehan took a shot from 30 yards away that hit the crossbar. After a myriad of missed chances by both teams, State got its best chance to score on a 22-yard direct kick, but Davis' blast sailed well left of the goal and out of danger.

Ole Miss got their best chance for paydirt a short time later, but a loose ball through a Maroon-free penalty area skipped pass three potential Rebel shooters and MSU cleared to keep the score at a standstill. The score would hold up at zeroes heading into the break, despite a 6-4 shot advantage by the hosts.

Ole Miss recorded a pair of corner kicks just four minutes into the period and its persistence paid off when Strini converted on the penalty kick following a hard foul by Casey just a few feet in front of the Maroon and White goal. The teams would trade chances the rest of the way out until the game's final few minutes when the Rebels opted for possession-ball in order to take the game out of the Bulldogs' hands.

Mississippi State got possession of the ball with just under a minute remaining in regulation and a Bethany Frazier free kick put the ball at the feet of Heidi Ondra who dribbled into the Rebel penalty area and took a shot that deflected off the hands of UM goalkeeper Ann Shelton. Casey was making a far post run and took control of the loose ball before blasting a shot underneath a diving Shelton to the far post to send the MState bench into a frenzy and the game into overtime.

Mississippi State will return to action on Sunday afternoon when the Bulldogs close out their 2005 season by entertaining the Mississippi Valley State Delta Devilettes (8-5-1) in a 1 p.m. contest at the MSU Soccer Field. Admission to all 2005 MSU Soccer home games is free.

At Oxford, Miss. (Ole Miss Soccer Stadium)

Mississippi State 0 1 0 0 - 0
Ole Miss 0 1 0 0 - 1

Ole Miss - Strini (53)
Mississippi State - Casey (90)

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