STARKVILLE, Miss. – Looking to build on a solid effort against South Florida in exhibition action last Friday, the Mississippi State soccer team opens the 2013 season Friday at South Alabama before returning home to host Arkansas State at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
Friday’s contest, a 7 p.m. opening kick, marks the beginning of the 19th season of Bulldog soccer and the debut of head coach Aaron Gordon.
Gordon’s side heads to Mobile looking to extend a 12-match non-conference unbeaten streak dating back to 2011 and build on last Friday’s 1-1 tie against a stellar MSU Soccer Field crowd of 1,056.
Senior Elisabeth Sullivan put State’s goal in the back of the net. The Memphis, Tenn., native enters her MSU swan song looking to build on a banner 2012 season that saw her claim second team All-SEC accolades after tallying 12 goals and 28 points.
Sullivan claimed the school’s career goals record with her 22nd and 23rd strikes in last season’s 3-2 win against Ole Miss, and she opens 2013 four points shy of matching Jessi Moore’s record that has stood since 2002.
In goal, senior CJ Winship and freshman Meara Johnson have been competing for the starting nod. Winship, a Ridgeland, Miss., native, drew the start against USF and responded with five saves over 45 scoreless minutes.
Johnson was also solid between the pipes, turning away two shots, including one in the overtime period, over a 55-minute span.
The Bulldogs and Jaguars will be meeting for the ninth time, with State holding a 6-2 overall advantage and a 2-1 edge in Mobile.
The two squads met last season in Starkville, with the Dawgs tallying a 5-0 shutout as part of the Bulldog Classic.
The Jaguars return all 11 starters from a 2012 squad that went 8-10-3. Clarissa Hernandez paced USA with 17 points on six goals and five assists, while Linsey Snavely compiled four goals and two assists for 10 points.
Melissa Drish and Lauren Arnold split time in goal last season, compiling 56 and 47 saves, respectively.
Friday’s contest will be MSU’s fourth time in five seasons to open on the road. The Dawgs last traveled to begin the season in 2011, suffering a 3-1 setback to Arkansas State.
Bulldog summer campers are invited to Sunday’s contest against the Red Wolves and are encouraged to wear their camp T-shirts for an on-field recognition at halftime.
As part of Sunday’s home opener, free Frisbees and ice cream will be given out to the first 100 fans and the Bulldogs will sign autographs following the match.
Sunday’s contest also starts a Greek Life Challenge that will see the fraternity or sorority with the largest season-long attendance being recognized on the video board during the Egg Bowl..
Fans can follow Bulldog soccer on Twitter (@HailStateSOC), Facebook (facebook.com/HailStateSOC) and Instagram (HailStateSOC). Free live stream and statistics for Sunday’s match will be available at www.hailstate.com/soccer.