COLLEGE STATION, Texas - In a hard-fought match that went down to the wire, it took an inadvertent touch in the box to set up a penalty kick and decide things as No. 23 Ole Miss (12-4-2, 5-3-1 SEC) fell to No. 19 Texas A&M (13-3-1, 8-1-0 SEC) by a score of 2-1.
The Rebels took the lead in the first half before the Aggies would equalize in the 67th minute. With less than five minutes remaining in regulation, Ole Miss was called for a handball in the box on an inadvertent touch to set up a penalty kick that gave the home-standing Aggies the lead.
Ole Miss couldn't find an answering goal as Texas A&M picked up the win in the battle between the two nationally-ranked teams.
"It was a good match that was hard fought," said Ole Miss head coach Matt Mott. "That's twice this season with two of our four losses coming on unintentional and inadvertent hand balls called in the box very late in games. That's really disappointing because we played really well. It's part of the game and what we have to deal with, but I'm really proud of our players for coming into a tough place to play and handling playing in front of a tough crowd.
"I'm excited about the remainder of our season with the character and guts this team showed in a very physical match," Mott said. "Alabama is a good team and we have to get freshened up and ready to face a team on Sunday that is fighting for points just like us."
After trading attacks early in the first half, the Rebels drew first blood when Olivia Harrison found the back of the net in the 31st minute. Mandy McCalla took the ball on the far side and dribbled down the side of the box before turning and sending the ball across to Harrison. The sophomore forward took the ball off her chest on the run to the near post and put it in the net to give the Rebels the lead.
It looked like the Aggies had answered with a minute left in the half, but the Texas A&M player was offsides to keep the home team off the board.
The Rebels led 1-0 at the half.
Texas A&M came out pressuring the Rebel defense in the second half, but each time the Ole Miss back line and McCormick answered the bell.
The Aggies broke through and tied the match in the 67th minute when Bianca Brinson took the ball most of the length of the field, dribbling down the far side and turning the corner in the box to put the ball in the net and tie the match.
The Rebels got a great opportunity to regain the lead in the 79th minute on a shot from the near side by Harrison. The Aggies' keeper made a leaping save, tipping the ball up clear of the goal to prevent the score and keep the game knotted at one.
The Ole Miss defense continued to turn back the Aggie attacks until a handball was called on an inadvertent touch when the ball bounced up on a scrum in the box and hit a Rebel defender. Texas A&M set up for the penalty kick and Shea Groom converted to put the home team up 2-1 with under five minutes remaining in regulation.
The Rebels would be unable to find an answering goal, falling to the Aggies 2-1 in the final road game of the regular season.
Ole Miss will return to action on Sunday when the Rebels host Alabama in a 1 p.m. showdown televised by SportSouth. Admission to the match is free and the fans that arrive early will be eligible to win a free Ole Miss Soccer pint glass.
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