MSU Soccer Defeats Alabama 3-1

The Mississippi State soccer team kicked off the university's Homecoming weekend with a homecoming of its own. After a disappointing three-match road trip in which the team dropped all three matches without scoring a goal, the team came back to Starkville Friday night and opened its SEC home slate with a 3-1 victory over the University of Alabama.

The team came into the match with a desperate need to manufacture some goals. After a hot start in which the squad scored at least one goal in its first seven contests, its road trip, which included matches against the University of Memphis, LSU and Arkansas, seemingly doused that fire as the Lady Bulldogs were unable to score a goal in any of the three matches. The team was outscored 8-0 during that three-match stretch.

With a return to Starkville, the team came back to the field where they were 2-1 on the season. The home field advantage seemingly did the trick for the team as they scored three goals during the course of the match to clinch the first SEC win of the season against the Crimson Tide.

Head coach Neil Macdonald said he was pleased with the team's performance and how it translated to an SEC victory.

"I was delighted with the way we played," he said. "We dominated the time of possession throughout the course of 90 minutes, and I thought we deserved to win."

The Lady Bulldogs knew they were in for a tough battle with their SEC Western Division rivals. The Tide came into the match with only two losses on the season and an unblemished record in SEC play. The Mississippi State squad established the pace early and made their presence felt throughout the course of the first half. Though the Lady Bulldogs didn't score a goal in the first half, they controlled the time of possession throughout the majority of the period.

The battle for ball control was even more vital as both teams came out after a scoreless first half. The Mississippi State team picked up right where it left off after the first half by maintaining ball control and being selective in its shot taking.

It didn't take long for the scoreless match to become weighted on the side of the Lady Bulldogs. Only three minutes into the second half, Treena Ferguson scored the first goal of the match by kicking the ball into the net from the left side of the 18-yard box.

The Crimson Tide attempted to turn the momentum in their favor and momentarily did so when Kelly King scored a goal in the 74th minute to tie the game 1-1. The goal was of the empty net variety as a result of a shot taken a moment earlier by another Crimson Tide player. That shot forced netminder Taryn Holland to come out in order to make the save.

The 1-1 score didn't last very long, however, as the Lady Bulldogs regained possession of the ball and took over the lead once more after Lauren Host's goal from about 15 yards out gave them a 2-1 lead. The goal was the freshman's first goal of her collegiate career and couldn't have come at a better time for the Lady Bulldogs.

Macdonald said Host did a great job on the goal and that she presented a great example of what the team has been working on in practice.

"It was an incredible strike," Macdonald said. "We've been working on the weak side and making runs forward. She did a great job and got into a great position to do that."

The Lady Bulldogs will return to the MSU soccer field again Sunday afternoon at 1:00 for a match against the Auburn Tigers (6-3-1, 2-1-0 SEC). The Lady Tigers suffered a 2-1 double overtime loss to Ole Miss Friday night and will be looking to rebound from that defeat on Sunday.

Brent 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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