Sullivan, Heltsley Lead Bulldogs Past Alabama
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - Elisabeth Sullivan scored twice and assisted Halee Heltsley's goal as the Mississippi State team put together a strong second-half rally to defeat Alabama 3-2 Friday night at the UA Soccer Complex.
State scored all three goals in the game's final 15 minutes as the team improved to 8-7-1 overall and 1-7-1 in SEC play.
The Dawgs claimed their first win over the Crimson Tide since 2007, and the first in Tuscaloosa since 2004.
Trailing 1-0 at halftime following a Lindsey Sillers putback, the Bulldogs tied the game 1-1 in the 75th minute off Heltsley's second goal of the season.
Sullivan worked past a pair of Alabama defenders and slipped a ball through the back line to Heltsley. The Shepherdsville, Ky., native drove toward the goal and put a ball in the upper corner of the near post.
"It was so exciting to hit the goal. I got hit right when I shot it, so I didn't know it went in," Heltsley said.
Sullivan gave Mississippi State the lead three minutes later when she put in the rebound off a Honeye Heydari shot that was blocked by UA goalie Shelby Church.
Alabama leveled the match with seven minutes left when Pia Rijsdijk scored at the far post on a corner kick.
The determined Dawgs kept fighting, though, and Sullivan scored the winner off a free kick. Morganne Grimes sent the ball into the box, and the ball bounced around before landing at the feet of Sullivan for the game-clincher.
"It was such a big win. We are so excited to finally break through. The first goal, Honeye hit it really hard and the goalkeeper dropped it. I followed it up and put it in the goal," Sullivan said. "The second one, I was in the right place at the right time. The ball came out to me at the penalty kick spot, and I hit it in the corner."
The Bulldogs improved to 8-7-1 overall and 1-7-1 in the SEC with the win.
"I'm delighted for our players. We've had some tough decisions go against us this year, but they have stuck with the game plan and kept working," Neil Macdonald said. "They deserved to take the win tonight. It was a great performance for the team tonight."
Alabama claimed a 25-11 shots advantage, but the on-goal chances were much tighter, with the Tide taking an 11-8 edge.
The Bulldogs fought off some serious Alabama challenges, including a couple of big 1-v-1 saves by MSU senior goalie Skylar Rosson.
Rosson, who became the second Bulldog goalie to eclipse 300-career saves last weekend, made six saves in the contest. Church had five stops as Alabama fell to 7-6-2 overall and 2-5-2 in the league.
The Bulldogs return to action Sunday, traveling to Gainesville to meet No. 12 Florida at 1 p.m. CT. The game will be televised by Comcast Sports Southeast.
Mississippi State (8-7-1, 1-7-1) vs. Alabama (7-6-2, 2-5-2)
Date: Oct 12, 2012 Attendance: 712
Weather: Clear and Cool
Goals by period 1 2 Tot
Mississippi State... 0 3 - 3
Alabama............. 1 1 - 2
1. 35:44 UA Lindsey Sillers (2) (unassisted)
4. 82:10 UA Pia Rijsdijk (6) (Molly Atherton;Kendall Khanna)
5. 88:04 MSU Elisabeth Sullivan (9) (unassisted)
Shots: Mississippi State 11, Alabama 25
Saves: Mississippi State 9 (Skylar Rosson 6; TEAM 3), Alabama 5
(Shelby Church 5)