MSU Soccer Loses 3-2 to UCF

The Mississippi State women's soccer team ended on the losing side of a see-saw battle Friday night against the University of Central Florida Knights by a score of 3-2 in the Bulldogs' 2007 regular season home opener.

The score teetered throughout the contest, with the Knights scoring first in the game and the Bulldogs fighting back during the frenetic final 15 minutes.

With the score knotted at two apiece, the University of Central Florida's Courtney Whidden scored what would ultimately become the game-winning goal after she corralled a corner kick in the midst of Bulldog and Knight players and placed it inside the net.

Fourth-year Mississippi State head coach Neil Macdonald noted that improvement has to be made to avoid the same outcome in the next game.

"Communication in the back four is still an issue for us," he said. "And we have to be physically tougher inside the 18-yard box."

Two of the Knights' three goals were scored inside that box, he said.

"Those balls were knocked down and we were second to them, so that's why we lost two of those goals."

One of the Knights' goals scored in that area was the only score in the first half for either team.

Neither team scored again until the 74th minute when Mississippi State lit up its side of the scoreboard with a goal that was placed in the bottom-right corner of the goal by sophomore defender Heather Buttrey.

The tied score was short-lived, however, because the Knights sailed a shot from about 30 feet away from the goal to give them the 2-1 lead.

In the 84th minute, the Bulldogs tied the game for the last time after an acrobatic goal by senior Treena Ferguson, which was her fifth goal in as many games.

The Bulldogs' final attempt to even the score occurred when Ashley Hood received a pass from a teammate and drove toward the goal, which lured the University of Central Florida goalkeeper away from the goal. Unfortunately, the goalkeeper dove to the ball and secured it with only 12 seconds left to clinch the win.

Friday night's loss was the third in the row for the Bulldogs, and all of the losses have been by one point.

The team will take to the field again on Sunday at noon as they play their second home game of the season against the Rice Owls (4-1-1).

Brent Allen Wilburn, a sports reporter for the MSU student newspaper The Reflector, is the soccer beat writer for the Dawgs' Bite, Powered by website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the sports network.

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