STARKVILLE, Mississippi—To round out the mini stretch on the road to begin the season, the Northwestern State soccer team faces SEC power Mississippi State on Thursday at the MSU Soccer Field.
The match kicks off at 7:30 p.m. and is being broadcast on SEC Network+.
NSU (0-1) enters the contest after falling at North Texas in the season opener this past Sunday.
Even in defeat, the Lady Demons showed heart and wasn’t discouraged following two early goals from the Mean Green. In the last 75 minutes, the NSU defense surrendered a single goal and allowed just six shots from UNT in the second half.
NSU aims to continue right where it left off from the second half against UNT.
“Obviously a 3-0 loss is never a good thing, but there are a lot of positives we can take away from it,” junior defender Caitlin Le Roux said. “In the second half, we were able to play a lot better. We were able to possess the ball and move the ball like we wanted to play and that half will be really beneficial for us moving forward.
“In the first half, we had jitters, especially with a new team and a lot of new players. But I don’t think that should be an issue moving forward.”
Behind that defense that featured Jessica Spitzer, Alina Graf and Kylie Morris
It is MSU’s (1-0-1) first game at home in the regular season after starting the season with a pair of road games, having beaten Grand Canyon and tied Arizona State.
Including the exhibition games, MSU has allowed just two goals in four games. Against ASU, MSU played to a scoreless tie.
“In order to be able to score against a really a good defense like that, our team needs to try to build through the middle and find the forwards’ feet and just attack,” junior Bella Ruggiano said. “We have to just be more of an attacking team and in the first 15 minutes, we’ll have to be composed and play our own game, playing the game we know how to play.”
The Bulldogs are the first of two SEC teams NSU is playing in the non-conference season, also playing at LSU next month.
“From what we’ve seen, Mississippi State is very athletic, very good on the ball and very attack minded, so it is going to be an interesting game,” first-year head coach Ian Brophy said. “They will put us under pressure, but I have seen some things we can exploit and have a little bit of success. We are coming to compete and not just fix some issues we had at North Texas.”
In the opener at UNT, goalkeeper Libe Banuelos stopped five shots in her debut for the Lady Demons, all of which came in the first half.
Like Le Roux, Banuelos also transferred in from Louisiana Tech. The transition to NSU was made more smooth by the goalkeeper coming with her.
“I was really lucky for Libe (Banuelos) to come along with me to Northwestern State,” Le Roux said. “I was really happy with that. She is an excellent goalkeeper and I feel really secure when she is in my goal. I would have to say having her has made the transition to NSU easier for me to see that familiar face and she is a good friend of mine.”
MSU has won all six previous meetings between the two schools, including four in Starkville. The last matchup was a 2-1 MSU victory in Natchitoches in 2009.
Following the match, NSU takes to the field Sunday when it welcomes Rice to the Soccer Complex for the home opener.