STARKVILLE, MISS. - Treena Ferguson's second goal of the game in the 85th minute gave Mississippi State (2-7-0, 1-1-0) the upset victory over No. 8 Tennessee (4-3-2, 0-1-1), 3-2. It was State's first win over the Lady Vols since 2000, and its first victory over a top ten team since beating No. 6 Florida in 2003.
Tennessee controlled the play during the first half, keeping play in the Mississippi State zone. However, the MSU defense did not allow many opportunities, giving up just three shots in the half. But, UT struck with five seconds remaining in the half. After Ali Cristoph's corner kick seemed to be headed out of the zone, Sarah Jackyra corralled it and sent a shot from 25 yards past MSU netminder Stephanie Dallas, giving the Lady Vols a 1-0 advantage heading into halftime.
But Mississippi State came out of the half fired up. Ferguson twice fired shots high in the first nine minutes. But three minutes later, the Sarnia, Ontario, Canada native struck. Sophomore Mariclaire Fancher sent a cross towards the front of the net, and Ferguson headed the ball past UT goalkeeper Jaimel Johnson. The goal was the fourth straight match that Ferguson has scored, a new MSU record. It was also State's first goal versus Tennessee since 2002.
Twelve minutes later, the Bulldogs grabbed the lead. Katie Lynn Harden sent a pass from the right side toward the net. Jessica Davis corralled it and snuck it past Johnson for her first goal of the season. However, the lead was short lived, Tennessee tied the game 1:51 later. Kylee Rossi dribbled past the MSU defense and scored against Taryn Holland.
The game-winner came ten minutes later when Ferguson deflected in a direct kick from Bethany Frazier. Tennessee had multiple chances to tie the game in the last five minutes. In the 86th minute, Christoph had a shot blocked, and defender Jordan Falcuson had a shot at the rebound, but the Bulldog defense saved it at the post. A minute later, Rossi tried to chip a shot over Holland, but the goalkeeper jumped to make the save, and knocked it away at the last second. Leslie Vineyard attempted a shot on the rebound, but it was blocked by the defense.
"I'm really proud of the girls," said MSU head coach Neil Macdonald. "They believed in the system and in each other. It was a great all-around performance, and we thoroughly deserved to win. We told them at halftime that they just have to believe in themselves, and when they relax, they can play good, quality soccer. It's been a long haul of games where we've been really tight, and the games could have gone either way. Today, we made it happen. It was a great result for a young team beating the No. 8 team in the nation."
The Bulldogs return to action on Friday night when they host LSU at 7:00 p.m. at the MSU Soccer Field. You can follow all the action live at www.mstateathletics.com.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - Mississippi State's Ivan Bjelica and Eric Lim both reached the finals of their respective singles draws Sunday, before falling at the MTSU Blue Raider Invitational. Bjelica reached the final two in Flight A1 while Lim played in the finals of Flight B1.
Bjelica, ranked 42nd nationally, reached the finals with an exciting 6-4, 3-6, 13-11 win over Tennessee's Kaden Hensel in a semifinal match Sunday morning. In the finals, Bjelica matched up with 95th-ranked Bobby Cameron of Tennessee who had knocked off State's Philippe Frayssinoux 6-3, 6-2 earlier in the day in the other semifinal match. In that match, UT's Cameron edged Bjelica 4-6, 6-2, 10-8 in a third-set supertiebreaker to claim the title.
In Flight B1 singles, State's Lim started the day with a 4-6, 7-5, 10-4 win over South Florida's Keith Embree in the semifinals but fell to Birmingham Southern's Mauricio Engler 6-0, 7-5 in the final. Due to weather conditions, Sunday's scheduled consolation matches were canceled.
MSU's next action will come when State's Bjelica and Frayssinoux travel to Tulsa, Okla. to compete in the ITA All-American Championships. Frayssinoux will begin qualifying play on Oct. 2 while Bjelica will begin in the main draw on Oct. 5. The rest of the Bulldog netmen will travel to Atlanta, Ga. to compete in the Georgia Tech Invitational Oct. 6-8.
MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - On a day dampened by rain showers, four Mississippi State doubles teams were in action indoors Saturday at the Blue Raider Invitational. Play was delayed two hours to begin the day and was moved to the Murfreesboro Raquet Club, which postponed all singles play until Sunday.
In Flight A1 doubles action, the MSU freshman tandem of Christopher Doerr and Pjotrs Necajevs won their first-round match 8-5 over Troy's Bastian Maucher and Irving Morales. In the second round however, the pair fell to Bobby Cameron and Kaden Hensel of Tennessee 8-3. Also playing in Flight A1, Bulldogs Ivan Bjelica and Artem Kuznetsov fell to Amrit Narasimhan and Benedikt Fischer of Memphis 8-6.
In Flight A2 doubles, MSU's pair of Ryan Farlow and Philippe Frayssinoux fell 8-6 in their first-round match to Davey Sandgren and Kiril Tcherveniachki of Tennessee. In that same flight, State's Josh Irey and Eric Lim also fell in the first round 8-3 to Alex Ahlgren and Enrique Olivares of East Tennessee State.
On Sunday, three Bulldogs will be in action in semifinal matches in the main draw while three State players will play in singles consolation matches. Play will get under way Sunday at 8:30 a.m. with singles consolation followed by the final matches in main-draw singles action.
STARKVILLE, MISS. - The Mississippi State softball team got strong pitching performances and timely hitting on its way to sweeping the final day of the MSU Fall Softball Tournament, defeating Wallace State, 6-0 and West Alabama, 5-0.
MSU pitchers only gave up six hits on the day. Sara Hickerson struck out six and allowed just four hits in the first game against Wallace State. Against West Alabama, Stephanie Comeaux and Jessie Bailey struck out four, while allowing just two hits.
State batters hit .411 (32-56) on the day, led by junior centerfielder Hayle Guess. Guess was 5-7 (.714) on the day with two runs and three RBI.
In the first game, State scored twice in the first inning, once in the third and twice in the fourth. Against West Alabama, MSU scored once in the first inning, twice in the fourth and twice in the sixth.
"I think this was a good start," said MSU head coach Jay Miller. "We got quality pitching from all four pitchers. I thought we swung the bat well. We were a little anxious, but that's to be expected this time of year. We generated some runs; generated some offense. I thought we played very well defensively for as early as it is. We hadn't worked a whole lot practice-wise on that. I feel pretty good the first weekend out, and hopefully that gives us something to build on."
Mississippi State concludes its fall schedule next weekend, facing Belhaven, Alabama-Huntsville and Jones Junior College.
STARKVILLE, MISS. - The Mississippi State softball got strong hitting and pitching performances on Day One of the MSU Fall Softball Tournament, defeating West Alabama, 13-0 and Wallace State, 27-2.
MSU pitchers only gave up seven hits on the day. Kelli Miller and Sara Hickerson combined for a two-hitter in the first game against West Alabama, striking out five. Against Wallace State, Stephanie Comeaux and Jessie Bailey struck out four, while allowing just five hits.
State batters hit .596 (40-76) on the day, led by junior shortstop Courtney Bures. Bures was 5-7 (.714) on the day with two walks and nine RBI, including a two-run home run during the fourth inning against Wallace State.
In the first game, MSU scored six times in the first inning, and three times in the third. After allowing a run in the top of the fifth, State added four runs in the bottom half to close the scoring.
Versus WSCC, the Bulldogs again scored six runs in the first, and added another in the second. MState doubled its total in the fourth. After allowing two runs in the fifth, MSU got three back in the bottom half, and closed the scoring with ten runs in the sixth.
The tournament concludes tomorrow with three games. West Alabama faces Wallace State at 11:00 a.m., followed by Mississippi State-Wallace State at 1:00 p.m. and Mississippi State-West Alabama at 3:00 p.m.
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The Mississippi State women's tennis team concluded play Saturday on the campus of the University of Alabama to wrap up their initial fall play at the Roberta Alison Fall Classic.
State sophomore Tatiana Feit continued her success from Friday's play with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Jil Hastenrath of Auburn to claim her draw. Freshman Valeriya Makarycheva wrapped up her first collegiate weekend with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Vanderbilt's Caroline Ferrell to take third-place honors in her draw. Junior Renee Joseph finished up her singles play with a victory over Shelley Godwin of host Alabama 6-4, 6-3 to win her draw's consolation honors.
After losing to the third-ranked doubles team on Friday, the Lady Bulldog tandem of Elna de Villiers and Martina Banikova won a pair of Saturday matches to earn their draw's consolation. They first defeated Alabama's doubles team of Mari Muller and Andrea Brenes 8-5 and then went on the clinch the consolation with a win over Birmingham-Southern's Kate Lambert and Casey Ragsdale 8-3.
In semifinals doubles action, the tandem of Joseph and Feit and the freshman duo of Makarycheva and DeAndra Saddler dropped their matches against the top-seeded teams of their respective draws. Joseph and Feit fell to Vanderbilt's duo of Amanda Fish and Amanda Taylor 8-4 and with the freshmen falling to Taka Betrand and Catherine Newman 8-2 also of Vanderbilt. Concluding doubles play, both pairs were defeated in third-place matches to third–seeded Whitney Chappell and Melissa Koning of Auburn and Auburn-Montgomery's No. 3-seed tandem of Nadia Lysak and Natalie Sienkob, respectively, by identical 8-3 scores.
Coach Tracy Lane's Lady Bulldogs will be back in action again at the Hoosier Classic in Bloomington, Ind., on the campus of the University of Indiana on October 6-8.