STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State gave everything they had Friday night against 12th-ranked Florida in front of a school-record crowd of 935. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, a Savannah Jordan header with just over one minute left allowed the Gators to escape the MSU Soccer Field with a 1-0 victory.
Florida (10-3-1, 4-2-0 SEC) out-shot MSU (3-10-0, 0-6-0 SEC) 25-8, but it was a much tighter contest with on-goal opportunities, as the Gators claimed a slim 8-5 edge.
“I thought we had a good game plan. We worked together and defended extremely hard. It’s coming together for our team in terms of how we need to compete on a weekly basis,” head coach Aaron Gordon said. “Florida is a talented team with a lot of good players, but I thought we put together a game plan that could deal with their talent on their attacking end of the field and a plan to catch them on the break.”
Senior CJ Winship turned in a phenomenal effort in goal, stopping seven shots, including a second-half penalty kick.
Unfortunately for MSU, Jordan managed to take a cross from Lauren Silver and head it past Winship to the near post for the golden goal.
“They had a lot of shots and corners, but there were not really around our goal. CJ didn’t have to make a lot of saves, but when she was called upon she did her job. A good goal had to beat her tonight, and unfortunately it did,” Gordon said. “I thought coming in we would have a chance playing at home in front of our fans, and we did. I am very proud of my team for giving everything they had tonight.”
The intense, school-best crowd sparked the Bulldogs’ stellar effort. State established an MSU Soccer Field attendance record for the second time this season, as Friday’s mark bettered the crowd set earlier this season against Furman and in 2010 against Ole Miss.
The record Maroon & White turnout nearly saw Mississippi State edge out the victory, as State came up unlucky on several scoring chances in the contest.
Senior Elisabeth Sullivan had the best chance to get in the scoring column with just under 25 minutes to play in the opening half. The Memphis native maneuvered past a pair of Gator defenders and fired a shot that deflected off UF goalie Taylor Burke. The ball rolled toward the line, but Burke, who had two saves in the opening half of play, managed to stop it right before it crossed the line.
With three minutes left before intermission, freshman Annebel ten Broeke rocketed a shot from range that Burke managed to save, and the teams went to half scoreless.
Junior Dana Forbes had an opportunity to put one away in the 54th minute, but her shot from the left wing was turned back by Nora Neset Gjoen, who tallied three saves over the final 63:53.
The Gators countered with Jordan looking to go low past Winship, but the Ridgeland, Miss., native made the diving stop.
Her biggest save of the night, though, came in the 67th minute. The Bulldogs were called for a foul in their own area, giving Havana Solaun a penalty kick. Solaun tried to go to the left post, but Winship made a diving stop to knock the ball wide and preserve the stalemate.
Forbes and Jordan each had opportunities to clinch the win in the final minute of regulation, but Winship and Neset Gjoen claimed the saves to force overtime.
After Sullivan had an impressive run stopped just before she could get off a shot at the golden goal, Winship answered with a pair of saves to send the match to the final overtime session.
The intensity between the teams picked up in the final 10-minute session, and MSU was forced to play the final two minutes of the overtime period with 10 players after freshman Kayla Puzas was sent off with her second yellow card.
Winship denied a Solaun attempt, but seconds later she was unable to turn back Jordan’s attempt.
The Bulldogs enjoy the season’s final open date Sunday before traveling to Georgia and Vanderbilt next weekend.
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