NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Elisabeth Sullivan recorded her fourth multiple-goal game of the season and the school-record eighth of her career Sunday afternoon as the Mississippi State soccer team fell 5-3 at Vanderbilt.
Sullivan scored both of her goals in the first half the Bulldogs took a 3-2 halftime advantage. The Dawgs (3-12-0, 0-8-0 SEC) were unable to hold on, however, as Vanderbilt scored three second-half goals to improve to 4-9-3 overall, 1-6-1 in league play.
The two goals were the 13th and 14th goals of the season for Sullivan, putting her one strike back of tying the single-season school record set by Amy Van Zandt in 2001.
The Memphis native opened the scoring in the 6th minute as she beat Shannon Morrish to the top shelf from 18 yards out.
In the 20th minute she assisted freshman Tiffany Huddleston’s first-career goal to put MSU up 2-0. Sullivan worked down to the end line and crossed a ball in front of goal that Huddleston, the Starkville native, punched in.
Moments after the first-half television timeout, Vanderbilt’s Cheyna Williams put in the first of her two opening-half goals with a strike inside the left post.
Mississippi State extended the lead to 3-1 11 minutes later as Sullivan beat a trio of Vanderbilt defenders and put one low past Morrish.
Williams answered for Vandy in the 38th minute as she flicked in a free kick to cap the opening-half scoring.
Despite the late opening-half goal, senior goalie CJ Winship gave the Bulldogs the halftime advantage as she recorded five of eight saves in the initial 45 minutes.
Already playing without freshman standout Annebel ten Broeke due to an injury suffered on Friday, the Mississippi State roster grew even smaller at the halftime whistle as junior Shannen Jainudeen went down with an injury that kept her out for the final 45 minutes.
““We knew that it would be a shootout coming in with two teams that are dangerous on the break and two teams that are still trying to find themselves defensively, and it proved to be just that,” MSU head coach Aaron Gordon said. “We were dangerous, scoring three goals having the chance to score a couple more. Giving up the number of goals we’ve surrendered this weekend leaves a bad taste in our mouth, but we had chances to win today.
“It was hard to play without Annebel, and losing Shannen was definitely a blow, but we battled hard and had chances late,” Gordon said. “Unfortunately, we got caught on the break late trying to get back to even. It was a tough loss, but we played hard today.”
Williams tied the game two minutes into the second half as she got loose on the right side and netted a shot to the left side.
The Commodores took their first lead in the 54th minute on an Ashley Oswald goal. Winship was unable to hang on to the initial attempt, and it deflected right to Sasha Gray, who put it over to Oswald for the goal.
Sullivan had a pair of late equalizing opportunities come up short. The first came when she was taken down from behind just outside the 18-yard box. Her initial free kick attempt deflected off the wall, but her follow-up was stopped by Morrish for one of her three saves in the contest.
Moments later Sullivan fired a ball toward the top corner, but a Commodore defender headed her attempt off the line.
In the 86th minute, Williams caught the Bulldogs trying to press forward for the equalizer and found Andie Lakin on the break for Vandy’s final goal.
Vanderbilt out-shot the Bulldogs 25-10, but claimed just a 13-7 edge in on-goal opportunities.
State wraps the home slate next weekend, hosting Alabama at 7 p.m. Friday and No. 7 South Carolina at 1 p.m. Sunday. Admission to both matches at the MSU Soccer Field is free.
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