Sep 8, 2013
HATTIESBURG, Miss. - The Southern Miss women's soccer team rebounded from its first loss of 2013 with a vengeance, peppering visiting Mississippi State with three second-half goals in a span of eight minutes en route to a 3-0 home win.
With the victory, the new-look Golden Eagles (4-1-1), under first-year coach Mohammed El-Zare, officially matched their win total from last year and either matched or bettered their win totals from 2009,2010 and 2011. It was a win than came less than 48 hours after a 3-2 overtime loss to South Alabama.
"In the second half, we just took it to another level," El-Zare said. "I'm really proud. To come back from the loss in an OT game two days ago and defeat a strong opponent, an SEC opponent, that was rested after not playing on Friday, is an amazing achievement. I commend all of the girls for their resiliency and their teamwork."
The match remained scoreless until the 74th minute, when senior Danica Roberts scored a goal after a 25-plus-yard inlet pass from Conner McKie that Ashley Johnson immediately redirected to the waiting foot of Roberts.
It was Roberts' third goal of the weekend and her seventh of the season.
"Lately, Danica has really taken her game to a new level," El-Zare said. "What can you say about what she is doing this year? She's a talented player."
That first goal blew the door open for the Southern Miss attack as Missy Wentz bagged an unassisted goal in the 79th minute before Anya Koren capped the scoring with an assist from Brooke Hendrix in the 82nd minute. Both Koren and Wentz served as reserves in the match.
"We don't have starters and non-starters on this team," El-Zare said. "Everybody contributes and will have moments where they will step up for us. Missy and Anya both came off the bench to give us goals today. That is exactly what we want, a team effort. That is the most exciting part, we are becoming a team. Everybody is supporting one another and we are moving forward together."
Mississippi State (2-3) got some shots off, 15 in total and 10 on goal, but a defensive effort led by Adriana Garcia, Casey Adkins, Kay Kay Hypolite and McKie with strong backing from freshman keeper Brittany Taylor sent the Bulldogs away empty handed.
"Our game plan was to limit their forwards' opportunities," El-Zare said. "Our defenders were instrumental in shutting down their forward attack."
Taylor (2-1-1) made the first start of her career and secured 10 saves. Mississippi State keeper CJ Winship (2-2) took the loss but made eight saves.
The unsung hero of the match, El-Zare said, was senior captain Kimberly Belmont, who returned Friday from injury and anchored the midfield Sunday.
"We've missed her," El-Zare said. "Her being on the field makes us go."
Sunday's match marked the fourth shutout win for the Golden Eagles in their past five matches.
Next up for Southern Miss will be a trip to the Mississippi State Tournament next weekend where matches with Jackson State, Friday at 5 p.m., and Furman, Sunday at 10:30 a.m., await.
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