On Sunday night, a Bulldog versus Bulldog matchup took place as the Mississippi State University soccer team faced the University of Georgia at home.
Last year, MSU beat UGA 3-0. This year, there was only one score for the entire game. Georgia scored the lone goal during the last two minutes of the first overtime, ending the match 1-0.
The singular goal scored in the game was by Georgia’s Abby Boyan with an assist from Keely Cartrett. MSU’s goalkeeper, Gabby English, stepped out of the box in an attempt to stop a shot by Cartrett. Boyan beat her there, scoring the winning goal in the first overtime.
James Armstrong, the team’s head coach, said the play showed how much of an unforgiving league the SEC can be.
“We didn’t take care of the moments that we had to win the game,” Armstrong said. “They made one extra play that we didn’t. That’s the difference between winning and losing today.”
Georgia had an edge in generating shots on goal, but MSU was able to control 52% of the possession. Armstrong said despite the loss, it was some of the best matches he had seen from his team all season.
“I’m proud of the girls’ efforts,” Armstrong said. “I actually thought it was our best performance of the season in a number of ways.”
Miranda Carrasco, a sophomore defender from Cypress, Texas, said there was some success to take away from the defeat.
“What matters is that we got better, and we worked together,” Carrasco said.
For the entire regular play time of the game, there were many moments when State got close to scoring as they created 10 shots, four of which were on goal, but could not quite find the back of the net. Armstrong said the team lacked quality in front of goal.
“We were creating chances—that’s the positive part,” Armstrong said. “It’s just that in that moment we’ve got to be a little more composed and trust ourselves in front of the goal.”
The struggle to finish goal scoring opportunities is one that Carrasco said has been a constant throughout the season.
“We had many opportunities to finish, but we couldn’t,” Carrasco said. “That’s kind of been our constant struggle throughout this whole entire season.”
During his talk to the team at halftime, Armstrong said he mainly focused on improving offensive communication since there were so many close scoring chances in the first half.
“It was, ‘Hey, we’re going to get opportunities to get through on goal. We’ve just got to have the person on the ball and the person making the runs communicating a little better,’” Armstrong said. “That was the main thing at halftime.”
It was a tight matchup, as shown by the lack of scoring by both Bulldogs. Both teams were very strong defensively. Not only were there few opportunities to get past the defense to the goal, but even at the goal both teams had strong goalkeepers. Georgia had a total of 17 shots, eight of which were on the goal. Gabby English, a graduate transfer goalkeeper from Winter Park, Florida, was strong in goal making seven saves.
The team’s next matchup is at Louisiana State University on Thursday, where the team hopes to work more offensively as they have built up a strong defensive team. Carrasco said they will most likely be working offensively during practice leading up to the LSU game and the end of the season.
“Now that we focused on the defending side of the game this past week, I think we are going to focus on the attacking side this next week coming up and just getting better at it," Carrasco said.