September 18, 2018 9:35:12 AM
STARKVILLE -- The Mississippi State women's soccer team continues to make history.
On Monday, MSU earned its highest Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) ranking at No. 2 in the first release of the season. Last season, MSU climbed as high as No. 37 in the RPI before closing the year at No. 45.
The RPI evaluates wins and losses as well as a team's strength of schedule. Texas A&M is ranked No. 1 in the nation. MSU already has played top-15 teams Auburn (loss) and Memphis (win).
MSU has received votes in the United Soccer Coaches' poll the last three weeks. This week's poll will be released Tuesday. The Bulldogs have never been ranked.
"This is a historic day for our program, posting our highest RPI ever," MSU coach Tom Anagnost said. "However, it's only a step on the way to our bigger goal of reaching the NCAA tournament for the first time."
MSU won all seven of its non-conference matches for the third time in program history and tied the school record with an eight-game winning streak dating back to the final match of 2017. The Bulldogs are the third-highest-scoring team in the Southeastern Conference, averaging 2.88 goals per game.
MSU has six shutouts, which puts redshirt senior Rhylee DeCrane in a tie for second in the Bulldogs' single-season record book. DeCrane is tied for third in the nation.
"I'm proud of what our team has accomplished, but that is the past," Anagnost said. "We are into SEC play now, the competition is much stiffer and we are focused on getting better from our last game. We play a Final Four team and the defending SEC champion in South Carolina on Thursday, and that is the next opportunity for us."
MSU will play host to No. 15 South Carolina at 7 p.m. Thursday at the MSU Soccer Field.
South Carolina is unbeaten in the last 11 meetings against MSU (8-0-3). Five of the victories have been by one goal.
MSU's last win in the series was a 2-1 decision on Oct. 16, 2005.
Fans are encouraged to help break the program attendance record set last season against Stephen F. Austin in the home opener. The team will give away free pizza and T-shirts along with double Hail State Rewards points.
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