ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - The Rebels opened play at the Southeastern Conference Tournament on Wednesday and notched a pair of goals from two of the top players in the program's history as No. 22 Ole Miss (15-4-2) defeated Kentucky (13-6-1) by a score of 2-0.
With the win, the Rebels will advance to the semifinals of the annual tournament and face the top-seeded Florida Gators at 4:00 p.m. on Friday.
The shutout was the ninth of the season for the Rebels and gave junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick her 33rd career win, giving her the most wins in a career of any goalkeeper in program history. Rafaelle Souza also tied for the career record in goals, putting in her 41st goal of her career to extend the Rebel lead in the second half.
"I'm really proud of the team tonight and the effort against a very good Kentucky team," said Ole Miss head coach Matt Mott. "We played a complete game tonight and got some very good performances all-around in a total team win. Mandy (McCalla) and Rafa (Souza) both continued to just do what they do for us, and that's put the ball in the net. Now we have to rest and get ready to face a very good Florida team on Friday."
After trading feints early in the match, the Rebels became the first team to convert an attack into a successful score when Bethany Bunker and Mandy McCalla connected for the game's first goal.
McCalla put the Rebels on the board in the 22nd minute when she took the ball at the top corner of the box on the far side of the field off a pass from Bunker. McCalla faked to her right and then turned left with the ball, firing the ball into the goal past the near post to take the 1-0 lead on the Wildcats.
The Rebels outshot the Wildcats 7-to-4 in the first half, but only found the back of the net on the one goal despite several terrific opportunities to extend the lead.
McCormick kept the Rebels in the lead as she and the back line turned away several Kentucky attacks and McCormick posted a trio of saves on hard strikes by the Wildcats' Arin Gilliland.
The Rebels extended the lead in the second half when Souza converted on a penalty kick in the 56th minute to take the lead out to 2-0. Olivia Harrison got loose on a breakaway down the far side of the field and dribbled into the box, beating a defender before she was taken down from behind.
The foul set up the penalty kick for the Rebels and Souza put it in the net to take the lead out to two goals.
Ole Miss continued to attack the back line of the Wildcats and apply pressure to Kentucky, firing off several more shots down the stretch. The Rebels held a 10-to-5 advantage in shots for the second frame just 20 minutes into the period, but were turned away by deflected balls and even the post a couple of times.
Despite several good shots down the stretch, the Rebels were unable to find the back of the net a third time as Kentucky managed to thwart the Ole Miss attack. The defense held, however, as the Rebels turned back the Wildcats the rest of the way to preserve the shutout.
McCormick posted five saves on the night, four on shots off the foot of All-SEC performer Gilliland for the Wildcats to give the Rebels the clean sheet.
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