Soccer Opens 2012 Season Friday

STARKVILLE, Miss. – All the hard work and preparation in preseason training camp culminates Friday at 7 p.m. as the Mississippi State soccer team hosts Southeastern Louisiana at the MSU Soccer Field to open the 2012 season.

Admission to all home matches is free, and the first 200 Bulldog fans in attendance receive free MSU fans. Updates on the match and MSU Soccer can be found at Twitter (twitter.com/mstateSOC) and Facebook (facebook.com/mstateSOC).

A free video stream of the match will be available on www.hailstate.com/hstvlive.

Neil Macdonald's squad brings a great deal of optimism into the season, as 10 starters return from last season's contingent that posted the most SEC wins and goals since 2004.

"I've been really pleased with what we've seen so far," Macdonald said. "We've seen some great leadership from our upperclassmen. We are going to be stronger with their vocal presence on the field."

State has 88 percent of its goal production back from a year ago, including leading scorers Elisabeth Sullivan and Jasmine Simmons.

Mississippi State also returns a stellar defensive unit that posted its lowest league goals tally since 1994. Senior goalie Skylar Rosson brings veteran experience to the back along with defenders Shannen Jainudeen, Morganne Grimes and Julie Waddle.

Rosson led the SEC and rated ninth nationally with 131 saves last season. The Edmond, Okla., native enters her final campaign in Maroon & White third in career saves (249), second in saves per game (6.55) and tied for third in shutouts (7).

Southeastern Louisiana returns all but two goal scorers from last season's unit that posted an 11-7-1 record and 5-4 Southland Conference tally.

"We have to make the match about ourselves. Southeastern Louisiana is a veteran squad, and I think our system matches up well with theirs," Macdonald said. "We know it's going to be a tough battle, but our players are confident after the great preseason camp we've had."

Maiya Cooper paced the Lady Lions with 30 points on 12 goals and six assists. Kelsey Salcido proved to be another valuable attacker, netting 10 goals and eight assists.

Cassie Northrup returns in goal for SELA. She appeared in 14 of the team's 19 matches, making 53 saves while surrendering 14 goals.

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