OXFORD, Miss. -Dylan Jordan headed in the go-ahead goal at the 70:59 mark in the second half, and Ole Miss opened the Matthew Mott era with a 1-0 win over the Middle Tennessee State Blue Raiders Friday night at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium.
The Rebels secured a season-opening victory for the 10th time in 16 tries, but it was the first time since 2006.
"With all the change that's gone on with a new team and new coaches, to get a win right off the bat is big for our program," said Mott, who took over as the Rebel head coach in May after serving as an assistant at Texas for the last four seasons. "To really get our players to believe and buy into everything we're doing is good."
The Rebels controlled the better part of possession throughout the first half and out-shot the Blue Rebels 7-6 in the period. Ole Miss dominated after halftime, though, out-shooting MTSU 12-2 in the second half and creating several dangerous opportunities in the attack.
Preseason All-SEC midfielder Taylor Cunningham nearly put the Rebels ahead in the 64th minute, but her beautifully placed free kick knocked off the crossbar.
Jordan finished her opportunity with the winning header in the 71st minute, but it was Kelsey Breathitt's run down the right flank that made it happen.
"It was a really good run by Kelsey down the flank and a great service," Mott said. "We've worked on that flank service a lot, and Dylan did a great job of finishing it. She got in there and got her head on it. She's fearless in the penalty area and did a really good job of finishing it off."
Jordan scored six goals as a sophomore last year, while Breathitt had four assists as a sophomore a year ago.
Junior goalkeeper Alley Ronaldi made four saves and collected her first shutout of the season and the 11th of her career.
MTSU was a 12-6-2 squad last season and returned 10 of 11 starters this year.
"I thought it was a really good test for us," Mott said. "Middle Tennessee State is a good team. They score a lot of goals, so for us to keep them off the board was something we were real happy about. They are very well-coached and dangerous. Alley Ronaldi played really well for us and made a couple of huge breakaway saves. I thought we had some good things going forward, created some chances. We were happy to finally get one in. Right now at this time of the season you're not the sharpest you're going to be in a couple months, so we'll take a 1-0 win and move on."
Five Rebel freshmen saw their first career action, and starters Mandy McCalla and Erin Emerson were particularly impressive in their Ole Miss debut. McCalla controlled the middle of the field and took four shots, while Emerson was dangerous up top and fired away three shots. Also seeing their first career action were A'shanae Monroe, Lindsey Walter and Ally Nikolaus.
Ole Miss returns to action in exactly one week with a Friday night showdown against Western Kentucky also at 7 p.m. at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium.
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