After hearing from volleyball this morning, we’re taking a turn with the Mississippi State soccer team, the first team to play a game in the 2012-13 athletic year. The soccer Dawgs kick off the season on August 17th in Starkville, hosting Southeastern Louisiana in the first of seven-consecutive non-conference games to open the season.
Neil Macdonald’s club is hoping to get a fast start before hitting SEC play and wants to build on some big wins over ranked conference foes in 2011.
They will be led by goalkeeper Skylar Rosson, one of the top goalies in the conference, leading the SEC in saves in 2011. Rosson anchors a strong defense that kept her team in close games against big opponents (Sound like a certain football team?), and Macdonald is turning his focus to improving the offensive side of the game in the coming weeks.
One thing that should help his goal of more goals will be the presence of a few new and speedy freshmen, who will have a chance to get acclimated in the opening stretch of non-SEC matches.
Macdonald enters his ninth season at MSU after taking over a program that had varied levels of success in the past, though three of the best seasons have come with Macdonald as part of the program, including the 2003 season when he was an assistant for the Bulldogs before taking over as head coach in 2004.
The goal for 2012, Macdonald said, is to find a way for his club to get into the SEC Tournament, something they were close to doing in 2011.
Macdonald’s story, as he talked to me about in the video below, is a pretty interesting one, too. He was born and raised in the Highlands of Scotland, where he grew up playing soccer. He ended up going to a coaching school in Edinburgh at the ripe age of 18, then he moved from Scotland to, of all places, Augusta, Georgia. It was quite the transition, as you could imagine.
For a primer on the season, I sat down with both Macdonald and Rosson, who are getting ready for practice to start and the season to begin in a couple of weeks. If nothing else, it’s fun to hear Macdonald’s distinctly non-Mississippi accent.