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

    MSU soccer team off to historic start

    The Mississippi State Bulldogs soccer team (4-0) looks to extend its undefeated season tonight as it hosts Troy at 7 p.m. The match will be the team’s home opener of the 2009 season and an opportunity to improve on the best start in school history, a spectacular turnaround from last year’s 5-15 (0-11 SEC) record.
    It will also be a chance for hometown fans to cheer for several new faces on the squad.
    Freshman midfielder Monica Alvarado, who garnered two game-winning assists last weekend, was named the SEC Freshman of the Week and leads the team with 6 points, with goals counting as 2 points and assists counting as 1.
    Another freshman, forward Rachel Wannek, trails behind Alvarado with 5 points on a pair of goals and an assist. Along with junior midfielder/forward Danielle Kite, the three Bulldogs add an international flavor to the team.
    Alvarado, a native of Texas, has spent time playing not only in her home state, but also internationally. In 2008, she played on Mexico’s U-17 team, which reached the championship match of the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football in Trinidad and Tobago. She was also selected to play for the U-20 Mexican Women’s National Team.
    Wannek comes from Ontario, Canada, where she scored 75 goals for the North London Soccer Club and helped her team win the Women’s Ontario Cup and a silver at the Women’s National Tournament. She has spent the last two years attending national training camps before coming to MSU.
    Returning is English-born Kite, who was a member of England’s U-17 National Team Pool before attending Mississippi State.
    Head coach Neil Macdonald said merging players with such different experiences to play SEC-style soccer is something good coaches have to be able to do.
    “We have to, as a coaching staff, put the style down on paper for them and the player has to conform,” Macdonald said. “But you know all three of them are very good technical players, and they’re all capable of playing a number of different roles and a number of different systems.”
    The roles are expanding this season, and Macdonald said he will use more offense than before, switching to a 4-3-3 system instead of the defensive 4-5-1 used in 2008. He said the team makeup will allow the Bulldogs to play more aggressively than last season, when they went winless in SEC play.
    “We have more technical ability. We’re faster in key positions across the field,” he said. “We have a little bit more depth as well, which allows us to make changes, keep people fresh … allows us to play higher up the park and allows us to press. All those things are important.”
    Bulldog players agree continued fan support is key to extending their winning streak.
    “We need a lot of fans to come cheer us on,” Alvarado said.
    Wannek agreed and said, “The louder they are the better. The noise doesn’t bother us at all – it gets us fired up.”

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    MSU soccer team off to historic start