By DANNY P. SMITH
The Mississippi State Bulldogs didn't help themselves very much Thursday night in their quest to make the Southeastern Conference Soccer Tournament.
With a 2-0 loss to the Kentucky Wildcats at the MSU Soccer Field, the Bulldogs slipped a notch in the SEC Standings.
Alabama, which defeated Tennessee 1-0 on Thursday improved to 3-5-1 in the conference, while MSU fell to 2-6-1 in the league.
It wasn't the type of performance against the Wildcats that the Bulldogs were looking for with something important on the line.
"I thought we let ourselves down a little bit tonight," MSU soccer coach Neil Macdonald said. "It's not the team we've been seeing. We were second to balls at midfield and all credit to Kentucky because they played very well. They are a disciplined team and great in transition."
It was the seventh match this season in losses or a tie that the Bulldogs have failed to score a goal. MSU was out-shot by Kentucky 31-10.
Kelsey Hunyadi scored both of the goals for the Wildcats, one in the first half at 18:07 on a shot that flicked off a defender and the other in the second half at 52:37 on a penalty kick.
Kentucky coach Jon Lipsitz said it was important to take advantage of every opportunity on the home field of the Bulldogs, who were 4-1-2 at the MSU Soccer Field coming into the match.
"You can look at the season and see how well Mississippi State has done here on their own field," Lipsitz said. "They've won some tremendous games so we knew we had to be ready. We give them tremendous respect and knew we had to play our best in order to get a win."
Lipsitz was impressed with the continued defense of his Wildcats.
"Our back line played very well all week against Tennessee and Georgia and I thought that continued today," Lipsitz said.
The Bulldogs, who are now 5-9-3 overall, have two more matches in the regular season at Vanderbilt Sunday and at Ole Miss on Oct. 28 to find their way to Orange Beach, Ala., for the SEC Tournament.
Macdonald said it won't happen unless MSU plays better soccer than it did against Kentucky.
"The next two games are must-wins and we're capable of doing it," Macdonald said. "We just need to get back in our old ways of being physical and first to the ball and we'll be fine. We have two training sessions to get prepared for the Vandy game on Sunday."