State’s Effort Not Enough in Loss to Top-Five Ranked Alabama

Published 2:23 pm Friday, October 21, 2022

STARKVILLE – For only the third time all season, the Mississippi State soccer program (10-3-3, 4-3-1 SEC) came up short against its opponent, falling 4-1 to Alabama (15-1-1, 8-0-0 SEC) on Thursday night.

The Bulldogs entered Thursday night ranked No. 25 in the most recent Top Drawer Soccer rankings, while the Tide arrived at No. 1 (No. 3 in United Soccer Coaches poll). Despite the loss, the Bulldogs outshot the Crimson Tide and recorded three more corner kicks.

“Credit to Alabama, they showed why they’re ranked number one in the country, and they scored some good goals there at the end,” head coach James Armstrong said. “We frustrated them for large periods of time, [so I’m] super proud of the effort of the team. I don’t necessarily think the score reflects what the outcome was, but we give our hats off to [Alabama] – they played a great game. We’re proud of our girls and we’ll look to regroup for Sunday.”

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Ten minutes after kickoff, the Crimson Tide found its first goal of the evening, recorded by Riley Mattingly Parker. It would be the second time in as many games that Alabama would be held to a single goal in the first frame.

Midway through the first half, the Dawgs would respond with the equalizer. After fighting and winning the ball from an Alabama player, freshman Alivia Buxton took three touches toward goal before passing the ball off to Haley McWhirter. For the second consecutive match, McWhirter’s rocket from distance found the back of the net. It’s now the sixth goal of the season for the sophomore transfer which ties her 2021 season total at East Carolina.

For the 10th time this season, MSU entered the break tied with its opponent. State became only the seventh team all season to score a goal in the first half over Alabama, and only the fifth team to limit the Crimson Tide to one goal or fewer in the opening 45 minutes.

Alabama’s three goals in the second half ultimately led the Crimson Tide to its eighth win in conference play, as well as the SEC West divisional title.

State now sits in a three-way tie for 5th place, overall, in the conference standings, tied with South Carolina and Georgia with 13 points in league play. MSU and Georgia will square off in State’s final, regular season match next Thursday, October 20, in Starkville.

The Bulldogs will be back in action Sunday afternoon, Oct. 23, at Vanderbilt (10-2-3, 4-2-2 SEC). The final road match of the season for State will kickoff at 3 p.m. CT and will be aired on SEC Network.

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