Anagnost, MSU will have to find answers after season-ending loss

 

Mississippi State junior forward MaKayla Waldner, left, was one of many Bulldogs to have great scoring chances Friday in a 1-0 loss to Lipscomb in the NCAA tournament.

Mississippi State junior forward MaKayla Waldner, left, was one of many Bulldogs to have great scoring chances Friday in a 1-0 loss to Lipscomb in the NCAA tournament. Photo by: Mississippi State Athletic Media Relations

 

Brett Hudson

 

 

STARKVILLE -- Tom Anagnost is going to need some time to find the answers. 

 

Mississippi State's women's soccer coach wasn't 100 percent certain how only seven of his team's 28 shots were on goal against Lipscomb in the first round of the NCAA tournament. 

 

MSU's second-year head coach also couldn't figure out how those seven shots failed to produce a goal. 

 

That failure to score ultimately proved to be the primary reason why MSU's historic season ended Friday. 

 

MSU spent 109 minutes watching shots go wide, over the crossbar, or get stopped in front. The inability proved to be even more frustrating when Lipscomb used a "harmless ball" that deflected for the game's only goal to end its season in a 1-0 double-overtime loss at the MSU Soccer Field. 

 

Lipscomb (15-4-2), which like MSU is making its first appearance in the NCAA tournament, will take on Duke in the second round at a time to be determined Friday, Nov. 16. It will be the first time Lipscomb has advanced to the second round of the NCAA tournament in any team sport. 

 

MSU ends its season at 9-7-2. 

 

"That was a multiple-goal game for us. It just didn't happen," Anagnost said. 

 

The goals could have come any number of ways. The Bulldogs had at least four well-positioned crosses blocked in the first half. The balls in the box that weren't blocked saw Brooke McKee head Carrasco's service wide. Olivia Hernandez couldn't place a header on frame. Niah Johnson also couldn't convert a cross from Waldner in the second half. They flipped the connection later in the half only to see the shot get saved. 

 

In overtime, a defensive play from forward Zakirah McGillivary led to a long run into a one-on-one situation only to see the shot get deflected over the crossbar. 

 

Another cross by Waldner produced three attempts at the goal, but only one was on target and it was saved. 

 

All told, MSU set season highs with 28 shots and 13 corner kicks. 

 

Anagnost also pointed to two goals that were taken away. Near the midway point of the first half, defender Hailey Zerbel's free kick found midfielder Carly Mauldin's head and soared inside the left post, but an offsides call erased it. In the second half, Waldner was called for goalkeeper interference going for a header off a corner kick. 

 

Anagnost wasn't pleased. 

 

"Our girl's just trying to make a play on the ball," Anagnost said. 

 

Despite the missed opportunities, Anagnost didn't used them as an excuse. 

 

"Sometimes the person that's going to take that shot or make that play needs to take another quarter of a second breath and focus," Anagnost said. "Sometimes it's a technical thing. We have to be clinical in front of the goal and it wasn't there tonight. We didn't make the plays in front of the goal that counted." 

 

In that sense, it was a sour end to a sweet season. 

 

"It's been an incredible year," Anagnost said. "It's been a remarkable season for me personally, from where we were to now. It's been dramatic. We can play with any team. Since I've been here, we've been in every game. We had a chance to tie or win every single game, and I'm really proud of that. It's a reflection of the people we have on our team. 

 

"They are high-character people, and what hurts is not being with them for another week. That's what hurts the most, especially the five remarkable seniors that left it in a way better place than when they got here." 

 

Mauldin is one of those seniors. On her way out of the postgame news conference, she brought her eye back to the placard with her name on it. She asked if she could keep it, as she reached down to grab it. 

 

On this day, souvenirs of what they started will ultimately be remembered more than the inability to take another step forward. 

 

Follow Dispatch sports writer Brett Hudson on  

 

Twitter @Brett_Hudson

 

 

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