STARKVILLE, Miss. – Elisabeth Sullivan scored her ninth goal of the season as part of a solid second-half performance, but it wasn’t enough as the Mississippi State soccer team fell 3-1 to Missouri in the rain-soaked SEC opener for both squads Friday night in Starkville.
Sullivan increased her school-record goals and points tally to 32 and 77, respectively, as Mississippi State fell to 3-5 overall, 0-1 in league play.
Missouri improved to 5-4 overall with the conference-opening victory.
The Memphis native cut a Missouri 2-0 halftime lead to one as she deposited the rebound off her initial attempt that deflected off Tiger keeper McKenzie Sauerwein.
“The conditions were far from ideal tonight, but I was proud of the way our team competed. Unfortunately, we gave up a goal right before halftime that proved to be the difference,” Bulldog head coach Aaron Gordon, coaching his first SEC game, said. “I really liked how we came out fighting in the second half and scored a goal to make it a 2-1 game. With the limited roster we have right now, I thought our legs gave out on us at the end.”
Sullivan converted the goal minutes after having a breakaway equalizing opportunity turned away by Sauerwein for one of her eight saves in the contest.
Bulldog goalie CJ Winship claimed six saves in the contest.
A Mississippi State squad that had six freshmen make their SEC debuts tied the Tigers with 12 shots in the second half and claimed a 5-4 edge in on-goal opportunities.
Unfortunately for MSU, the difference came in an opening half that saw Missouri score twice on 16 shots.
Kaysie Clark broke the stalemate with a 35-yard strike to the top shelf in the ninth minute, and Macee Blanchard scored a breakaway goal with 13 ticks left in the opening stanza.
Winship kept the deficit at two as she mad four stellar opening-half saves, including a pair off a Missouri 16th-minute corner kick, to keep the Dawgs in striking distance.
The wet conditions also cost Bulldog freshman Annebel ten Broeke an equalizing opportunity when she was unable to get a solid foot on a Jordan corner kick in the 26th minute.
The Bulldogs hit the road next weekend, traveling to No. 20 Texas A&M on Friday and LSU Sunday.
State returns home Oct. 4, hosting Kentucky in a 7 p.m. contest at the MSU Soccer Field.Fans can follow Bulldog soccer on Twitter (@HailStateSOC), Facebook (HailStateSOC) and Instagram (HailStateSOC). Mississippi State athletics can also be found on FanCred by going to http://www.fancred.com/go/hailstate/.