STARKVILLE — Mississippi State soccer was knocking on the door for the greater part of the first half during Sunday’s match against Minnesota.
The Bulldogs found themselves with chance after chance in front of goal, but just unable to convert as the score remained scoreless into the half.
However, the youthful energy of MSU came up big once again early in the second half as Hannah Telleysh found freshman Maggie Wadsworth open inside the 18-yard box.
The freshman forward, just like in the Bulldogs’ home opener, was in the right place at the right time, putting the ball in the back of the net in the 53rd minute for the game’s only goal as Mississippi State shut out the Golden Gophers, 1-0.
“Something the coaches said at halftime was to come out with the same energy as last game,” Wadsworth said. “They told us to keep going and that’s what we did.”
Like on Thursday night against Lipscomb, the Bulldog attack was putting immediate pressure on Minnesota’s back line and forcing goalkeeper Megan Plaschko into multiple saves.
All told, MSU (3-0-1) had three shots on goal in the match compared to Minnesota’s one, and that early pressing led to four first half corners.
“Today was a dogfight,” Mississippi State head coach James Armstrong said. “It was a war of attrition. It wasn’t the prettiest of games, but it was all about who was going to win the most first balls and the most second balls. Thankfully for us today, I thought we had some really good plays in that area.”
The blend of youth and experience that Mississippi State has is the big story so far this season and it showed on Sunday.
On the back line, All-SEC defender Andrea Tyrrell came up big on MSU’s back line, blocking shots or getting in front of balls to be able to clear the box.
On offense, it was the freshman duo of Wadsworth and Alivia Buxton who had four combined shots on goal. Buxton nearly had a goal of her own toward the closing stages of the match, but she put too much on her lob shot as it went just over the crossbar.
Though she didn’t score, those are incredibly encouraging signs to continue to build off of, even more so just four matches into the season.
“Every practice, every game, every time we’re together, we seem to keep getting closer and keep bonding together,” Wadsworth said. “It’s been a really great experience, especially as a freshman coming in. This stuff can be kind of overwhelming, but everyone, the upperclassmen, the coaches, the entire staff, they’re just amazing.”
Unfortunately, MSU received tough news as sophomore midfielder Ally Perry, who scored her first collegiate goal on Thursday, went down with a leg injury in the 23rd minute of play.
She had to be helped off under the power of the training staff and did not return in the match, later seen walking around in crutches.
“I don’t know quite what it looks like just yet, but she’s in good hands with the doctor and our trainer,” Armstrong said. “Hopefully, we’ll get some good news here in the not-too-distant future.”
Injury aside, MSU once again stepped up during its nonconference schedule, this current stretch being the toughest part of it.
Up against Power Five and NCAA tournament-caliber competition, the Bulldogs have more than proven themselves thus far.
Armstrong talked before the season about the importance of the nonconference schedule in preparation for the SEC, and through four matches, MSU looks up to the task.
“We said to the girls, we want to play the toughest teams that we can,” Armstrong said. “This is what we’re going to see in the SEC, so this is a really good tuning moment for us and we learn a lot of lessons from playing good opposition.”
Mississippi State continues its nonconference schedule Thursday against South Alabama, the reigning three-time Sun Belt tournament champions.
The Bulldogs are 3-0-1 in their last four meetings against the Jaguars, having outscored them 7-2 in that span.