STARKVILLE - Mississippi State's soccer program fought to a 1-1 draw against Tennessee on Sunday afternoon, keeping its SEC Tournament hopes alive.
Had MSU (7-7-3, 2-4-3 SEC) lost, they would have been on the brink of elimination with Auburn's defeat of Alabama, pending the result of LSU at Ole Miss later on Sunday night.
"I couldn't be prouder of the girls' efforts again," head coach James Armstrong. "I thought we were the better team. Once we established a rhythm, I thought it was just a matter of when we were going to score. Once again, we didn't quite get the bounce of the ball, but we created lots of chances. We had 22 shots today, 32 shots the other day. We're just waiting for our luck to change a little bit in front of the goal. I'm really proud of the girls' efforts though, they deserve more from today than what they got."
The Bulldogs held their own in the first half, despite being outshot, 7-3, in the frame. Both teams managed just two shots on goal, and both keepers were up to the test. State turned up the pressure in the second half, firing 10 shots to the Volunteers' two.
Freshman Onyi Echegini nearly opened the scoring in the 47th minute. Her shot from the top of the box was just touched over the bar to preserve the tie.
Just six minutes later, Monigo Karnley passed a ball out to the Olivia Hernandez along the sideline. Hernandez found Echegini in the middle of the field where she fired a curling shot off the inside of the post for her third goal of the year.
With the assist, Karnley moved into a tie for 11th in MSU single-season history (6) and fourth among all Bulldog sophomores.
In the 64th minute, the Volunteers (9-5-3, 3-4-2 SEC) evened the score on a penalty kick.
The Bulldogs then battled in the box, shutting down numerous scoring chances. Gabby English made her biggest save of the day in the 78th minute. The Bulldogs nearly scored twice in overtime. Echegini took a nearly identical shot to her scoring effort in the 97th minute, but the keeper made the save. MaKayla Waldner, celebrating her Senior Day, took a shot in the final seconds of the first overtime. It was blocked, but continued on its path toward the net before clanging off the crossbar.
State outshot the Volunteers, 9-2, in overtime. Tennessee's only significant threat came in the final minute of the game. With 30 seconds on the clock, the Volunteers sent a corner into the box. English suffocated the loose ball in the midst of a scrum in the box as the clock expired.
The Bulldogs now travel to Missouri on Thursday, Oct. 31 at 7:15 p.m. CT. The match will air in full on SEC Network+ with whip-around coverage of every league match airing on SEC Network's "Reach the Beach" special.
Currently, State will need a win to earn their way into the SEC Tournament for the first time since 2004. The Bulldogs will also need results across the conference to go their way to avoid potential tie-breaking scenarios.