MSU Soccer Loses 3-2 to Kentucky

Facing a 3-0 deficit in the second half of the match, the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs attempted an epic comeback to give the senior players one last win in front of their home crowd. Meredith Jacobson scored two goals in the waning minutes of the contest, but the team was unable to score a third and fell 3-2 to Kentucky on Thursday night.

Jacobson scored her second goal, a header off an aerial pass from teammate Bethany Frazier, with only 27 seconds remaining in the match. The team then hustled to the damp, soggy center of the field to attempt to score a tying goal in the closing seconds but was denied by the Kentucky defenders.

The match was once again a tale of two halves for the Lady Bulldogs, who seemingly play their best during the final 45 minutes of their matches. The Mississippi State squad has scored only four goals during the first half of their matches this season. Head coach Neil Macdonald was quick to point to the first half of the match when finding the source of the loss.

"I thought our first half performance was awful," said Macdonald. "We didn't play with confidence, we didn't pass the ball, and we didn't hold possession. We just dug ourselves into a hole early in the match."

Mississippi State's first half woes actually appeared to begin due in part to the rainy conditions during the match. A Lady Wildcat player sailed a shot toward the goal, but Lady Bulldog goalkeeper Taryn Holland was in position to make the save. However, the ball slipped from her grasp and to her left side. The easy goal was then scored by Kentucky's Sarah Gaunt.

Twenty minutes later, the Lady Wildcat lead was doubled after a header by Mississippi State's Hannah Tyler into her own goal when she attempted to send the ball out of the 18-yard box.

Macdonald chalked both of those goals up to a lack of concentration. "We just made two massive mental errors on their goals," he said.

Another goal was scored by the Lady Wildcats shortly after intermission to up the tally to 3-0. The goose egg finally hatched for the home team with only two minutes left in the match.

The Lady Wildcats committed a foul inside the 18-yard box, which led to a penalty kick for the Lady Bulldogs. Jacobson, who is the team's designated penalty kicker, stepped up for the team and rifled it into the left side of the net.

The Lady Bulldogs played with more initiative during the second half, but the solid play wound up being too little, too late.

"We need to play for 90 minutes," said Macdonald. "In the second half, we came out with some intensity. But the bottom line in soccer is that you have to earn the right to play with the ball first, and we only did it for the second half."

The loss on the murky field also leads to a potentially murky postseason picture for the Lady Bulldogs. With only two games remaining in the regular season, Mississippi State is straddling the borderline of a birth in the eight team SEC tournament in Orange Beach, Ala.

The squad certainly realizes the importance of winning its next two contests and will eye victories in those road matches.

"Everything is going to come down to the other matches," Macdonald said of the current SEC tournament picture. "We are going to regroup and go after Vanderbilt [Sunday] and see what we can get out of it."

The Lady Bulldogs will travel to Vanderbilt Sunday for a 2:00 showdown with the Lady Commodores. Vanderbilt is another team fighting for a spot in the tournament and will also be hungry for a victory.

The squad closes out its 2007 regular season slate with a match in Oxford against Ole Miss on Nov. 2 at 7:00 p.m.

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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