STARKVILLE, Miss. — Marcella Cash didn’t have the highest of hopes as her Mississippi State University soccer career began.
“I didn’t think I was ever going to see the field,” the 2020 Beavercreek High School graduate said via Zoom Thursday. “When I like first got here, I was sick. I didn’t get a lot of time to (practice). I missed most of the summer trainings. For the longest time I was very behind.”
But after an injury to a player 14 minutes into the game, Coach James Armstrong called on Cash and it paid off. After solid play in a 1-1 tie with Auburn Sept. 18, Cash will start in tonight’s match against Alabama, which can be seen at 7 p.m. on the SEC Network.
“Marcella stepped onto the field and changed the momentum of the game,” Armstrong said. “She’s further along than we thought she would be based on the summer she had.”
It wasn’t a great start for Cash, who was one of southwest Ohio’s most prolific scorers for three seasons.
“It was a struggle at the beginning with adjusting to the coronavirus, being very new to everyone,” Cash said. “I hadn’t played for so long and my confidence was low. I’m getting a lot more comfortable and I’m enjoying myself. It’s a lot more fun.”
It’s also a lot different than what she faced while in high school.
“It is way faster,” Cash said. “A thousand times more physical. Just overall it’s just more intense to play. I’m always doing something, it’s competitive, upbeat, very fast. We have to be paying attention.”
No doubt Armstrong has been watching.
“It’s interesting listening to her talk,” Armstrong said. “She’s selling herself short in so many ways. She probably had a lot of bad luck over the summer, which meant she was probably behind the game a little bit from where she wanted to be and where we hoped she would be. (But) for her to get where she is right now is a testament to who she is as a person.”
Much like she did for the Beavers and her club team, Cash put in a lot of time and effort to earn her minutes.
“We’re thrilled with how she transitioned so far,” Armstrong said.
As a forward, Cash goes against one of MSU’s top defenders, Andrea Tyrrell, on a daily basis.
“Somehow they seem to find the small space on the field and just go at it in a healthy manner,” Armstrong said. “She has no issue going toe-to-toe. That takes some guts and some spirit.”
That’s Cash, in a nutshell, however.
“I want to keep getting better,” she said. “I want to achieve my long-term goals. I wanted to be on the field. I knew I wasn’t going to do anything that could take away from that opportunity that I could have.”
And now that she has that opportunity to see the field, Cash is determined to stay out there.
“I’ve always wanted to be a starter,” she said. “That’s my big thing. I feel like I just have to come out harder and smarter because I want to keep that spot. I’m not going to do anything to (take) away from my game because that’s where I want to be.”
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.