Head Coach Neil Macdonald Talks MSU Soccer

Mississippi State head soccer coach Neil Macdonald talks about the upcoming soccer season.

Talk about the players you have returning and your newcomers.
"Some of the major players are Bethany Frazier at left back from Madison, Mississippi, Meredith Jacobson from Houston, Texas, Hannah Tyler from Jackson, Mississippi, Danielle Kite from England and Mary Kate Ayers from Dallas.

"That is basically our starting back line from last year. Frazier, Jacobson, Tyler and Kite start and MK fills in. I would say the back line is the strongest part of the team based on the fact that they are very experienced.

"Taryn Holland, our starting goalkeeper, is back. A junior, she is very experienced off of her first two years.

"We also have nice depth because we have added freshmen Allison Ouren and Kelsey Kitchings, who are both center backs. Both are very good players who will push for playing time. And we have (sophomore) Marie Clare Scurria at left back as well. So, we have a little bit of depth at every position in the back line.

"Anna Goblirsch, who is from Kentucky, is back. She's a mid fielder. Heather Buttrey, who is from North Carolina, can play in that role as well.

"Leanna Baldner, who played well as a freshman last year, is back and can play anywhere across the mid field. She had a great game last Friday night.

"Mariclaire Fancher, who is our team captain, is back from injuries she had last year. She is back and starting to hit her peak again. She gets up and down the field well, she's a player who can transition from defense to offense and offense to defense very quickly.

"Kevyn Shelledy is a fifth-year senior who was a redshirt last year. She has given us a ton of experience and has played very, very well in the preseason.

"Kim Petit is a freshman who is going to come in and split time at attacking mid field with Shelledy.

"Katelyn Graben is our highest points earner from last year. She returns. She has a thigh strain at the moment.

"We have strengthen the front line as well. We have Taylor Turnipseed from Oklahoma, who scored on opening night, and Tarah Henderson, from Augusta Georgia, who also scored. Both are freshmen and both started last Friday night. (Freshman) Serena Prendergast came in as a sub due to a couple of injuries.

Did you expect the freshmen to contribute like they did in your first game?
"Yes, they had a good preseason, although it was a steep learning curve for both. But they are both intelligent kids. I also think that Prendergast, who was injured in the preseason, is also going to do extremely well. I'm really happy about that because we have some good options across the front that we haven't had in the past."

How many freshmen do you expect to play significant minutes this season?
"I would say 6 or 7 of the 10 freshmen have regularly been on the field. They may not start, but they will rotate in."

Are you about where you want to be with your team?
"Yeah, we are a little faster as a team, we have increased our technical ability, and I think we have improved as a squad at every position. We have 28 players on the team, which is good for competition. That has obviously increased the level of training because everybody is looking over their shoulder."

This is obviously your team since this is your fifth year at MSU. What kind of player do you look for?
"We first of all look for a good kid. We also want a confident individual, that is the next thing. We always look for technical players because ideally we want to play soccer on the ground, pass it well, and possess the ball. To me, three of four years we were very defensively oriented, but the philosophy has been to change that to an attacking team. And we are getting there."

What are your expectations for the team this year?
"The process the last two years has been to change slowly, to build a mindset. And I think we are now at that point. I want to see us go out and compete for an SEC Western Division title this year. I think if we can get off to a good start and get some confidence from wins under our belts, I think we can do very well."


The soccer team hosts Arkansas-Little Rock, Northwestern State and Southern Mississippi August 29 and 31 in the inaugural Bulldog Classic presented by Holiday Inn Express.

State will face Arkansas-Little Rock at 7 p.m. on Friday and Northwestern State at 2 p.m. on Sunday. Southern Mississippi will take on NSU at 5 p.m. Friday before meeting UALR at noon on Sunday.


Gene Swindoll is the publisher of the GenesPage.com website, the source for Mississippi State sports on the Scout.com sports network. You can contact him by emailing swindoll@genespage.com.


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