ORANGE BEACH, Ala. – It looked like things would be heading to overtime for the Rebels in the opening round of the SEC Tournament on Monday, but Rafaelle Souza and Ole Miss had other plans.
With less than a minute to play in regulation, Jessica Hiskey took the ball on a fast break down the far side of the field and found Rafaelle Souza in the penalty box where Souza delivered a strike into the goal with 43 seconds left on the clock.
The goal pushed ninth-seeded Ole Miss (13-8) to a 1-0 win over eighth-seeded LSU (9-8-4). With the first round win, the Rebels will now face top-seeded Florida on Wednesday afternoon at 5 p.m.
“It’s a great win,” said Ole Miss head coach Matthew Mott. “LSU is a great opponent and they do a great job; they’re hard to break down. It felt like we were getting close, but we couldn’t find that goal and Rafaelle (Souza) just had a second of brilliance. It was a great finish, and we’ll take it for sure.
“Staying with it (helped the Rebels win),” Mott said. “We move the ball well, we got in dangerous spots and we kept trying to get in dangerous spots until we thought we could get a goal.”
Souza scored the game-winning goal – her fourth on the season – to move into a tie with teammate Mandy McCalla for the SEC lead in goals scored on the same day both players were tabbed for All-SEC honors by the league’s coaches.
The win is the first for the Rebels at the SEC Tournament since the 2004 season when Ole Miss beat host Auburn in the opening round and faced Florida in a second-round matchup.
The two teams played to a draw through the first period of play, despite the Rebel offense proving to be the aggressors. Ole Miss out-shot the Tigers 9-to-3 through the first 45 minutes, many of them on goal, though none of those shots were converted for goals to put the Rebels on the board.
The two teams went into the half with neither team having drawn the first blow.
LSU opened the second half with an aggressive attack early, but the Rebels pushed back and knocked the Tigers on the heels after settling down. Ole Miss countered with its own punch, turning defensive stops into quick strikes in the other direction.
The Tiger keeper was able to keep the Rebels off the board with several nice saves throughout the period. Souza was able to break free in the final minute and finished the fast break started by Hiskey as the Rebels counter-attack proved successful and Ole Miss picked up the win.
The Rebels out-shot the Tigers 18-to-10 on the night and the Rebels picked up the eighth shutout of the season behind the play of a solid defensive back line and sophomore goalkeeper Kelly McCormick. The eighth shutout victory is fourth most in a single season as the 2005 team posted 11 shutout wins and Ole Miss recorded 10 shutout victories in both 2003 and 2009.
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