BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - Mississippi State improved to 2-0 on the season, defeating Georgia Southern, 2-1, at the Samford Barber's Invitational.
"Overall, we played very well," said MSU head coach Neil MacDonald. "The girls showed great commitment. It's always difficult to play on a Sunday. We were tired, but we outworked Georgia Southern for 80 of the 90 minutes. The first half performance was as good a performance as I've seen from a Mississippi State team. We dominated in every aspect of the game."
MSU came out on fire, as they had three golden opportunities in the first five minutes. Treena Ferguson sent a shot on net from the right box, where Georgia Southern goalkeeper Lauren Santos made the save. Jessica Davis was twice on her doorstep to knock in the rebound, but Santos got her hands on both.
Four minutes later, Davis struck. After Ferguson dribbled up the left side, she passed the ball to Davis in front of the net, where the senior kicked it in for her first goal of the season and a 1-0 MSU lead. It was also Ferguson's first career assist.
State kept the pressure on throughout the first half with numerous scoring opportunities, peppering the GSU defense with 13 first half shots, while holding the Eagles to just three.
The second half started slowly for State, as both teams battled for position. However, MSU picked up the play in the 60th minute. After the Bulldogs intercepted the ball in their own zone, Bethany Frazier dribbled down the left side, dropping it off to Katelyn Graben. Graben played it into the box, where Ferguson knocked it in for a 2-0 MSU lead. It was Ferguson's second goal of the season.
Georgia State snapped the shutout with less than five minutes remaining in the match. Hannah Tyler was called for a foul in the defensive box, giving GSU's Holli Finneren a penalty kick. Finneren shot the ball into the left corner, cutting the lead to 2-1. The Eagles continued to apply pressure in the final minutes, but MSU held on for the win.
Mississippi State returns to action next weekend when it travels to Murfreesboro, Tenn. for the MTSU Tournament. The Bulldogs will face Western Kentucky on Friday, September 7 at 4:30 p.m. (CT) before playing host Middle Tennessee State on Sunday, September 9 at 3:30 p.m. (CT).