TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WTVA/MSU Athletics) – Mississippi State coach Aaron Gordon saw a good effort from his young squad come up short in a 2-0 road setback to Alabama Saturday night in the preseason finale for both teams.
Alabama claimed a 16-9 shots advantage, but the Bulldogs equaled the Crimson Tide with six attempts each in the second half. The on-goal edge was much closer, with Alabama claiming an 8-4 advantage.
“I wanted to see where we are as a team coming out of preseason, and if we could put two games together back-to-back. We played well against Memphis Wednesday, and I thought we had good effort tonight although we didn’t play as well,” Gordon said. “To play another SEC opponent is good for us since we are a young, emerging soccer team. These games are invaluable for us. It was definitely a good opportunity for us to grow heading into next weekend’s season opener.”
Freshman Morgan Ferrara and senior Shannen Jainudeen recorded all of the Bulldogs’ on-goal efforts, placing two shots each on frame.
The Crimson Tide took the early advantage in the fifth minute on a Theresa Diederich goal. Merel van Dongen hit the initial shot, which was saved by MSU goalie Rhylee DeCrane. The ball trickled toward the line, but DeCrane knocked it wide where Diederich found it for the one-timer to the far post.
DeCrane turned in another stellar effort in goal, stopping six shots in the contest.
After the shaky opening few minutes of the game, the Bulldogs settled in and created some opportunities of their own. Jainudeen put both of her first-half attempts on frame, including an attempt in the 19th minute that Alabama keeper Emily Rusk managed make the kick save on.
Ten minutes later Ferrara put a ball through the Alabama back line that found Jainudeen for a shot from the right side, but Rusk managed to punch the effort away before it could find the far post.
Alabama extended the lead to 2-0 11 minutes after the second-half kick. The Bulldogs were unable to clear a corner out of the danger area, and Marusckha Waldus found Lacey Clarida for the goal.
State’s best opportunities of the final 45 minutes came off the feet of Mallory Eubanks and Ferrara.
Eubanks’ chance came in the 83rd minute when she rifled a shot that was unlucky and deflected off the crossbar.
Three minutes later Ferrara flicked one forward that rolled past the keeper but was cleared away short of the line by an Alabama defender.
Gordon’s club officially opens the 2014 slate Aug. 22, hosting Iowa State at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network.