Miss. State Defense trumps UF Soccer

No. 11 Florida Gators soccer (13-3, 6-1 SEC) fell short against the Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-8-3, 1-5-1 SEC) in Starkville, Miss. with a 0-1 loss Sunday afternoon.

After a successful match against Mississippi on Fri. Oct. 14, the Gators gained confidence after adding the sixth SEC win. However, Florida couldn’t manage to overcome Mississippi State’s defensive strength, causing the Gators to lose their second SEC match (in a total of eight).

The Gators started slow from the get-go, allowing a goal to be made within the first 37 seconds of the match by Mississippi State forward Elisabeth Sullivan with an assist by midfielder Amy Hoover.

The goal came from 16 yards out of the right side of the box as Sullivan tore through Gator defense and sent the ball right under Gator goalkeeper Taylor Burke.

Mississippi State goalkeeper Skylar Rosson was exceptional against Gator offense— saving a total of six shot attempts in the first period by Florida players Erika Tymrak, Tahnai Annis, Taylor Travis and Caroline Triglia.

The Gators struggled to follow through with goal attempts, as many wide-left and wide-right shots were taken to Mississippi State’s goal box and blocked by the Bulldogs’ defensive line.

Most notably, 24 minutes into the game the Gators gained a corner kick opportunity that lead into a play where the ball went through to Gator midfielder McKenzie Barney, who took a shot near post corner but sent it high over the goal.

“We created lots of chances, we just didn’t finish,” said Florida Head Coach Becky Burleigh. “Ultimately, this game is about finishing your chances. They finished their chance and we didn’t finish any of the multitude of chances we had.”

Burke stepped up her game after allowing the first opposing goal, saving three more shots by Mississippi’s Sullivan in the first period.

Mississippi State kept their 1-0 lead over the Florida Gators at the end of the first half.

The second period tested the Gators strength as a team, coming together and holding their own defensively against the Bulldogs.

Gator offense stepped up their game as well. Three shots were taken to Mississippi State goal within the first ten minutes of the second half.

Even though the Bulldogs’ defensive line was weak in the second period, Mississippi State’s goalkeeper Rosson made it impossible for the Gators to score.

Shots made by Florida’s strong offensive players Tymrak, Annis and Annie Speese couldn’t find the back of the net—all were saved by Rosson.

There is no surprise in Rosson’s talent in the goal box. She has saved a total of 103 shots on goal this season, only allowing a total of 24.

Rosson caught the ball repeatedly throughout the second half before Gators could get to it for possession and shot attempts.

“Mississippi State did a great job of hanging on,” said Burleigh. “Defensively, you couldn’t ask for anything more—they kept the ball out of the net. They held on for 90 minutes under a lot of pressure, and that is impressive.”

This match also gave Rosson her second-highest saves total this season with a total of 13 saves against Florida.

The Gators take on Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark. on Thursday at 8 p.m. to finish up the 2011 regular season road matches.