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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Soccer unable to score, winless in two games this weekend

Blake Williams | MSU Communication
Soccer unable to score, winless in two games this weekend

Mississippi State University (9-4-2) looked for three points Thursday night against the University of Arkansas (10-3-3), as SEC play enters its final week.

However, after 90 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime, the game ended in a 0-0 tie. Head coach Tom Anagnost said he was pleased with his team’s performance.

“I thought we were tough, we were relentless,” Anagnost said. “The kids left it out there. They showed grit. They were communicating out there. They showed some mental toughness, they kept at it, (they were) persistent.”

At the same time, he acknowledged the team was close to getting a better result.

“We were real close. We’re definitely on the tipping point… We’ll get there, I’m confident,” Anagnost said. “It’s just one player making one play and the game changes.”

Both sides constantly pushed to break the deadlock, resulting in a physical matchup. The two teams combined for 43 fouls, more than any other MSU game this season. Kristen Malebranche, sophomore defender from Hillsborough, New Jersey, said she did not mind the physical nature of the game.

“It kind of hypes me up, honestly,” Malebranche said. ”I think that’s one of my strengths. So, if you wanna be physical, I’ll be physical right back.”

Thursday’s game was the Bulldog’s third SEC home game to go into overtime, and for MSU, it was their second tie. Hailey Zerbel, junior defender from West Covinia, California, said it is tough playing in overtime.

“Honestly, 20 extra minutes is hard for any team,” Zerbel said. “It’s about who wants it more at that point.”

The tie left MSU in sole possession of 10th place in the SEC standings, which would represent the last playoff spot.  

MSU (9-5-2) entered Sunday afternoon’s game against Ole Miss (11-6-1) knowing they would likely need a win to make this year’s SEC tournament. However, they were unable to win.

When they take the field against LSU (10-6-1) Thursday, they will do so knowing they will definitely need a win to make the tournament after falling to Ole Miss 2-0 in Oxford.

It was a tough day for the Bulldogs, as Ole Miss scored two goals within a span of four minutes. The first came in the 67th minute on a breakaway by CeCe Kizer, a senior forward known as one of the top players in the nation.  

Just over three minutes later, Rebel’s forward, Gabby Little, took a cross from Lonnie Mulligan and put it in the back of the net. Those would be the only two scores of the game. Anagnost said his team made crucial mistakes leading to each goal.

“In the defending quarter of the field, we made two mistakes that you can’t make, and they capitalized on both of them,” Anagnost said.

Still, the game contained positive play for the Bulldogs, as they approach the last game of the regular season. They outshot the Rebels 18-10, forcing eight saves by Ole Miss’ goalkeeper Morgan McAslan. MSU created chances with eight corner kicks, and Miranda Carrasco, freshman defender from Cypress, Texas, said this was the biggest difference maker.

“We had opportunities, but we didn’t finish them when we needed to, and they unfortunately did,” Carrasco said.

Andrea Tyrell, freshman forward from North York, Ontario, created several of MSU’s opportunities. She was tied as the team leader for shots on target with McKayla Waldner, a junior forward from Dexter, Missouri. 

Tyrell has recently seen an uptick in minutes for the Bulldogs. She was a spark coming off the bench in recent games, most notably in the Arkansas game, and Tyrell said she is just playing for the team.

“I go out there and do everything for those girls,” Tyrell said. “I know I’m not a starter, but the best thing I can do is just go out there and do everything I can for the team.”

While the Bulldogs are certainly disappointed with the result of this year’s Magnolia Cup, Carrasco said it will only motivate them more going forward.

“It will definitely motivate us,” Carrasco said. “We’re gonna be more motivated because we shouldn’t have lost this game.”

With an RPI consistently remaining in the top 10 for several weeks, MSU seems likely to make the NCAA tournament. As conference play draws to a close on Thursday, they will focus on qualifying for the SEC tournament. 

The Bulldogs have dealt with an incredibly difficult conference schedule this year. Each team plays 10 other conference opponents, leaving three out of their schedule. For MSU, those three teams are Missouri, Georgia and Kentucky, who have combined for four wins in 27 conference games.  

Regardless, MSU will have one more chance to lock up a playoff spot as they take on LSU Thursday at 8 p.m. Carrasco and her team know they will need three points to keep their season alive. 

“We have to win our game this Thursday for us to make the tournament,” Carrasco said.

It is do-or-die time for the Bulldogs, as they will need a win on Thursday, and a little help in order to make the SEC tournament starting later this month in Orange Beach, Alabama. However, they are more than likely going to the NCAA tournament with an RPI of 15.

Bulldog soccer fans will watch two specific SEC matchups very closely on Thursday: Missouri at Tennessee and Alabama at Auburn. With a trip to the SEC tournament on the line, the team will look for fans to show up and get loud Thursday night to help push them into the post-season.

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Soccer unable to score, winless in two games this weekend