Undefeated Bulldogs Face First Road And SEC Tests This Weekend
STARKVILLE, Miss. - After completing an unbeaten non-conference slate, the Mississippi State soccer team opens the road and SEC portions of its schedule with weekend treks to South Carolina and Kentucky.
The Bulldogs open the league slate against the Gamecocks at 6 p.m. CT Friday before making the long journey to Lexington on Sunday for a noon CT showdown against Kentucky.
Head coach Neil Macdonald's squad leaves the friendly confines of the MSU Soccer Field looking to defend its 7-0-0 start, the program's best since the 2009 squad began the year with eight-straight victories.
The Bulldogs, one of seven undefeated and untied teams in the nation, needed extra minutes against in-state rival Southern Miss to preserve the perfect start. It took just three minutes in overtime for senior Jasmine Simmons to net the golden goal that led the Bulldogs to the 1-0 victory.
Senior goalkeeper Skylar Rosson stopped four USM shots as the Maroon & White recorded a school-record fifth-straight shutout. The solo clean sheet was the 11th of Rosson's career, tying her with Taryn Holland for the program's top mark.
Thanks to stellar defensive play limiting opponents' shots on goal, Rosson has only had to make 17 saves this season. Her 0.44 goals-against average is 18th-best in the nation, while the team's 0.42 GAA is 15th nationally.
While the defense has been stingy, the Bulldog offense has peppered the back of the net 19 times. State enters the league schedule averaging 2.71 goals per game, third-most in the SEC and 21st-best in the nation.
Freshman Honeye Heydari enters her SEC debut looking to continue a stellar freshman campaign that has seen her net a team-best 14 points on five goals and four assists. The Jackson, Tenn., native has averaged 2.0 points per match this season, the 23rd-best mark in the nation, and tied the school record with a point in six-straight matches.
Junior Elisabeth Sullivan has also enjoyed a banner year on the field, tallying 13 points behind five goals and three assists.
South Carolina enters the conference opener 3-2-1 after falling to rival Clemson and beating East Carolina last weekend. USC's The Gamecocks have seen rookies score seven of the team's nine goals, with SEC Freshman of the Week Courtney Agnotti-Smith and Coryn Bajema leading the way.
Both players have tallied seven points this season. Bajema has scored a team-high three goals and assisted on another, while Agnotti-Smith has tallied a squad-best three assists to go with two goals.
Sabrina D'Angelo returned in goal last weekend, making two saves while surrendering a goal. Darien Vercillo played between the posts the first four games, making 10 stops against a pair of goals.Fans can stay updated on this weekend's matches on the Bulldogs' official Twitter (www.twitter.com/mstateSOC) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/mstateSOC) pages.