MSU soccer achieves first NCAA Tournament win in program history

MSU will face Memphis in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

The Mississippi State University soccer team secured a historic win over New Mexico State University in the first round of the NCAA Women’s Soccer Tournament with a final score of 2-1, marking the first ever tournament win in program history.

It was a back and forth physical battle between the Bulldogs and NMSU in the opening 30 minutes of the contest. Neither team was able to find their way onto the scoreboard until 30 seconds before the end of the first half, when freshman Alivia Buxton secured the first goal of the match for the Bulldogs. With the goal from Buxton, MSU led 1-0 heading into the second half.

The physicality between the two teams did not waver in the final period as the intensity continued to increase in the second half. MSU and NMSU recorded a combined 27 fouls in the match  13 of those coming from the Bulldogs. It was a nonstop battle between the two teams, as neither wanted to see their postseason hopes cut short.

NMSU netted their first goal with 16:35 left in the second half when Loma McNeese scored with an assist from Bianca Chacon. McNeese's goal tied the match at 1-1.

Sophomore Rylie Combs achieved a huge feat against the Aggies by securing her very first goal of her career via an assist from teammate Haley McWhirter. Combs’ first goal also was the game-winning goal, and as a result, MSU advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

After the game, Bulldog head coach James Armstrong spoke to the media about the message to the team heading into the second round of the tournament.

“First off, enjoy tonight,” Armstrong said. “This team is all about firsts, so we’ll make sure to enjoy it. We’ll regroup tomorrow, get a good training session, and for those that didn’t play, a good recovery session, and then we’ll just look forward to seeing where we go next and get back to work.”

After the big first round win against NMSU, Combs discussed the feelings of scoring her first career goal, which, arguably, was one of the biggest goals in program history.

“Our team has worked so hard all year and I just felt like I owe the team this. It was not just my goal but my team’s goal.” Combs said.

Following Combs, Buxton had similar things to say about her feelings toward her goal in the game and discussed the importance of the win over the Aggies.

“Like Riley (Combs) said, it was more for the team. It was just a really big moment for our whole team because I know we have worked so hard for this moment, and it's important to us all.” Buxton said in the postgame presser.

The Mississippi State Bulldogs move on the second round of the NCAA Tournament to face the University of Memphis in Fayetteville, Arkansas. The match against the Tigers is set to begin at 4 p.m.

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