The Mississippi State Bulldogs defeated Southeastern Louisiana 2-1 at the MSU Soccer Stadium in its season opener Friday night.
With State starting the season off 0-3 and finishing at 6-10-3 last year, the team wanted to get off to a fast start with a victory this year.
It only took the Bulldogs’ first game to score two goals and obtain a victory which took four games last year.
According to MSU head coach Neil Macdonald, the team definitely needs to play well during the non-conference part of the schedule to allow itself to be in good position before Southeastern Conference play begins.
“It’s all we’ve talked about, if you look at our SEC games last year, we really competed well, then we had such a slow start to the season last year and that’s what we’ve been focusing on,” Macdonald said. “We’ve got to get some W’s at this point if we’re going to make it to NCAAs, we’ve got to win our non-conference games so delighted with that (Friday) night.”
State controlled possession most of the first half and were able to break through for the first goal of the match following freshman forward Honeye Heydari’s first career goal as a Bulldog in the 23rd minute as she caught two defenders off-guard with a steal and a strike into the back of the net to give State a 1-0 lead.
“It was a good start, but one goal is not a lot so we have to keep working the entire 90 minutes,” Heydari said.
In the 35th minute, freshman forward Mary Cathryn Taylor gave an assist with a cross inside the box headed into the goal by junior transfer midfielder Sasha Vrany for her first career goal to further State’s lead to 2-0.
“It was exciting to get my first goal as a Bulldog," Vrany said. "I’m just looking forward to the rest of the season. It was a great start. That was a good confidence booster and we’re looking forward to our next game of the season.”
Southeastern Louisiana did manage to pull within one goal inside the 42nd minute to make it 2-1 but that is as close as they got. Mississippi State went on to control offensive possession in the second half as they recorded a total of 13 shots on goal compared to two by Southeastern Louisiana.
Macdonald said that he was pleased by the way the team controlled possession for the majority of the game.
However according to Macdonald, the team needs to capitalize on those possessions and score when the opportunity presents itself.
“I thought our possession was very good in the second half obviously created a ton of chances but we’ve got to start finishing those chances,” Macdonald said. “It’s early in the season yet and we’re a little bit nervous coming out and hopefully that’ll fall into place.”
The Bulldogs host UT-Martin next on August 24 at 7 p.m.