The Mississippi State University women’s soccer team (4-2) faced the No. 18 University of Memphis Tigers Sunday night, and fell to Memphis (5-1) by a final score of 4-0.
The first goal found its way to the back of the net in the first 10 minutes of the game by Memphis forward Samantha Murphy. MSU put up a good fight, as most of the match went back and forth over the next hour. However, in the last five minutes, the Tigers consecutively scored three more goals.
MSU head coach James Armstrong said the last five minutes were a change of pace from the rest of the game.
“I think we had a really good chance in the 85th minute that we didn’t capitalize on," Armstrong said. "They went straight to the other end and scored a goal which made it 2-0. So, it went from what could’ve been 1-1 to 2-0 and then after that, obviously, it was a little bit of collapse after that moment in time. I would definitely say that was the change in momentum.”
The first half of the game was played well by the Bulldogs, as they held Memphis to only one goal. Armstrong said the talk during the halftime break was mostly just an encouragement for the players to keep doing what they were doing. Memphis was strong offensively and defensively, so the Bulldogs holding them to one goal in the first half was impressive.
MSU's goalkeeper was able to get a nice save, when a girl cut free to the goal in the first half on a break away. Gabby English, graduate goalkeeper from Winter Park, Florida, said she was ready for the moment.
“I would say our goalkeeping coach has worked a lot with us on breakaways, and I think that helped us,” English said.
After halftime, the Bulldogs continued to hold their opponents from scoring until the 87th minute, when the Tigers took control of the match and scored three more goals before time ran out.
Despite the tough loss, Armstrong said the Bulldogs have been training hard for the season and there were some positive takeaways from this game.
“The girls are working really hard, and that’s the disappointing part with the score tonight," Armstrong said. "I felt like we were really good for 85 minutes and we went toe-to-toe with a really good Memphis team. We, as a coaching staff, have got to make sure that we can figure out how to play for a full 90 minutes.”
Offensively, English was able to see a glimpse of hope in the Bulldogs, as they fired off seven shots, but only three of those were on target.
“I think, offensively, we had a lot of great chances, and the more that we sniffed at the goal, we saw these opportunities," English said. "I think we started to believe in ourselves that we could do it.”
Although the final score was 4-0, English was still able to find a positive takeaway from the game, as MSU moves on to play the University of South Alabama this Thursday at 7:00 p.m.
“Obviously, Memphis’ defense played well," English said. "I think we learned a lot from this game that we’re going to be able to grow from.”