The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Women’s soccer looks to depend on newfound youth, freshmen in the anticipation upcoming season

Having football signees leave high school early and come to campus in the spring has become a common occurrence. Having a soccer recruit arrive a semester early, however, is somewhat of a new phenomenon.

Mississippi State University welcomed three soccer signees this spring who are benefitting from an extra semester working with the team. 

Head Coach Aaron Gordon said the program was financially able to bring in Morgan Ferrara, Ashliegh Badley and Hannah Smith, who have all grown this spring.

“It depends on the sacrifices of those players who want to come. For some, giving up the spring of their senior year may mean high school soccer or just social activities like prom potentially that might be important to them, but really it’s starting to be more common,” Gordon said. “It’s an opportunity to get five college games under their belt and see what it’s like, and they’ve made the most of it and gotten better every day.”

Ferrara led the team with four goals this spring and has the task of replacing All-SEC forward Elisabeth Sullivan, who scored 16 goals last season and is now playing in the National Women’s Soccer League with the Portland Thorns. Ferrara, a Tampa, Fla., native, said she has liked the small town atmosphere of Starkville but does miss living next to the beach.

She said she has not kept up with her high school friends that much, but would rather be here than there any day.

“It was a tough transition, but I think all three of us have grown as players, so I think we’llbe ahead in the fall,” Ferrara said. “Just being around the team — they’re my family, and they became my family so fast. I love them.”

With 17 freshmen joining the team in the fall, both Gordon and Ferrara agreed coming to MSU early will make the fall transition smoother. Ferrara said she hopes the bonds created by the team this spring will help the other freshmen who come in the fall have that same chemistry.

“We have a big recruiting class coming in the fall, and I wanted to get ahead and get used to the college feel. Soccer wise, I’m at a whole new fitness point and have gotten way stronger in the weight room, so I’ll be more ready in the fall,” she said.

Ferrara’s counterpart at the forward position is new as well, but not because she is a freshman. Shannen Jainudeen moved from defender to forward this spring — a switch Gordon said is permanent for her senior campaign.

Injuries and concussions sidelined Jainudeen last year, so when she came back at the end of the year and was not at her best fitness level, Gordon tried her at forward and said he liked what he saw.

“I saw a side to her that I thought could be really good for us. She has been awesome all spring. For someone who’s only played up there five games and scored three goals — that’s a good record,” he said. “(Ferrara and Jainudeen) have already established chemistry which will be good because the other freshmen coming in can look to Morgan and see Shannen is easy to play with and all those different things.”

At 5’11” Jainudeen stands as the second tallest player on the team, and 5’10” Ferrara, the third tallest player, joins the ranks at forward. Jainudeen said it has been good having another tall player up top.

“It’s great because our chemistry is stronger, and it’s going to build,” she said. “(Gordon) just put me up there, and I guess I did well enough to keep me there, but I have a lot more work to do up there.”

Jainudeen and Ferrara have a little break from preseason work before continuing their chemistry in the summer to prepare for the upcoming season in the fall.





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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Women’s soccer looks to depend on newfound youth, freshmen in the anticipation upcoming season