AUBURN, Ala. - Mississippi State fought valiantly Friday night, but an Ana Cate second-half header proved to be the difference as Auburn claimed a 2-0 victory at the AU Soccer Complex.
The deciding goal came in the 63rd minute when Cate headed in a loose ball off an Ashley Kotero shot that was deflected by Bulldog senior goalie Skylar Rosson.
The Tigers added a second goal from Alexa Allen in the 71st minute.
"I was very proud of the way our team came out and fought for the full 90 minutes. We created some chances on offense, but we just weren't able to put them in," head coach Neil Macdonald said. "The match, unfortunately, came down to a couple of mental errors we made. At this level, you can't affort to make those mistakes. We have to learn from them and get ready to face a good Missouri team on Sunday."
After taking over second place on MSU's career saves chart, Rosson stopped 12 shots Friday night as the Bulldogs fell to 7-6-1 overall, 0-6-1 in the SEC.
Auburn (8-6-0, 4-3-0 SEC) out-shot the Bulldogs 20-8 in the contest, including a14-3 advantage in on-goal chances. The Tigers also claimed a 13-3 edge in corner kicks.
The deciding goals came after the two squads were unable to convert chances in a scoreless opening half.
Rosson's work started early as she turned away two Auburn chances in the match's opening 10 minutes. The first came 1:50 after the opening whistle when she dove to her right to deny a Maddie Barnes effort.
In the ninth minute, Tori Ball tried to hit a shot to the lower corner, but Rosson managed to deflect it away with her foot.
After the Edmond, Okla., native turned back a Mary Coffed attempt in the 17th minute, the Tigers were unable to put another chance of frame the rest of the half.
State's lone on-goal attempt of the opening 45 minutes came in the 13th minute on an Amy Hoover shot from range that Amy Howard claimed.
Howard made three saves in the contest.
She was nearly tested in a 25th-minute breakaway by Bulldog freshman Mary Kathryn Taylor, but the Pace, Fla., native had her attempt blocked out of play.
The Tigers closed the first half with a Tori Sample shot toward the top shelf that caught the crossbar and deflected out of play.
Auburn opened the second half with a pair of balls that were deflected and stopped by Rosson. Ten minutes into the half, the Tigers' Bianca Sierra fired a long-distance shot toward the upper 90 that Rosson deflected over the bar.
Following Cate's goal, junior Elisabeth Sullivan nearly leveled the match with 22 minutes to go. The Memphis native made a turn to the middle of the field and fired a ball from 30 yards out that Howard just managed to tip over the crossbar.
State's final chance to get on the scoreboard came off the foot of senior Jasmine Simmons with 10 minutes left. The Oklahoma City native fired a shot from distance that appeared to have Howard beat before it hit off the crossbar.
Mississippi State wraps the weekend road trip with a trek to league newcomer Missouri. Kickoff between the Dawgs and 16th-ranked Tigers is set for 1 p.m.
Mississippi State (7-6-1, 0-6-1 SEC) vs. Auburn (8-6-0, 4-3-0 SEC)
Date: Oct 05, 2012 Attendance: 842
Weather: 72; Clear
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
Mississippi State... 0 0 - 0
Auburn.............. 0 2 - 2
1. 62:48 AU Ana Cate (1) (Tatiana Coleman;Ashley Kotero) - header off save
2. 70:45 AU Alexa Allen (3) (Maddie Barnes;Mary Coffed) - inside six following a defensive deflection
Shots: Mississippi State 8, Auburn 20
Saves: Mississippi State 12 (Skylar Rosson 12), Auburn 3 (Amy Howard