STARKVILLE, Miss. –Aaron Gordon makes his debut as the Mississippi State head soccer coach Friday night as the Bulldogs host South Florida at in a 7 p.m. exhibition match.
Friday’s contest will be “Back to School Night” at the MSU Soccer Field. In addition to free admission, area students will receive free school supplies while supplies last. There will also be Facebook Friday giveaways in the stadium and registration for the Starkville Soccer Association.
There will also be face painting and areas to make signs prior to each game. Free T-shirts will be thrown out following every Bulldog goal this season, and fans will have the opportunity to compete in halftime challenges to win some great prizes.
A free live video stream of the match will be available at www.hailstate.com/hstvlive.
Fans can keep up with the Bulldogs all season on Twitter (@HailStateSOC), Facebook (facebook.com/HailStateSOC) and Instagram (HailStateSOC).
The Bulldogs hit the field against an opponent for the first time following a high-intensity, two-week preseason training camp.
“Practice has been productive, but we are ready to get on the field against an opponent and see where we are. I wanted as competitive a game as possible for the exhibition to know where we stood after the preseason,” Gordon said. “South Florida is a good team with a veteran coaching staff that has played in one of the top conferences in the country (Big East), so we need our fans to pack the stadium and be as loud as possible.”
Gordon will be looking to a group of 11 veterans, including five returning starters, to lead a 2013 contingent that boasts 10 talented newcomers.
Senior Elisabeth Sullivan paces the offensive attack after earning second team All-SEC accolades following a 12-goal, 28-point junior campaign. The Memphis native enters her Bulldog swan song the school’s career goals leader and four points back of tying the all-time points record of 62 set by Jessi Moore over the 2001 and 2002 seasons.
Fellow senior Morganne Grimes anchors an experienced defense that returns sophomores Shelby Jordan and Addie Tomlin and junior Shannen Jainudeen.
The Bulldog defense faces a USF squad that returns eight starters from a unit that went 10-5-4 and 6-2-2 in conference play.
Friday’s match will be the second exhibition for the Bulls following a 2-1 setback to Florida Gulf Coast, another MSU foe, in Fort Myers.
Olivia Chance, a 2012 Big East All-Rookie Team selection last season, netted the Bulls’ lone goal in the 19th minute. Chance scored four goals and assisted two more a year ago.
Second team All-Big East selection Sharla Passariello returns after pacing USF with eight goals and three assists in 2012.Mississippi State officially opens the 2013 campaign at South Alabama on Aug. 23. The Dawgs begin the home slate against Arkansas State at 1 p.m. on Aug. 25.