OXFORD, Miss. – The Rebels made history for the program Friday night at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium when No. 22 Ole Miss (16-5-2) defeated Jackson State (10-10-2) by a score of 9-0 to advance to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
It marked the first time for the Rebels to host an NCAA Tournament game, and the Rebels did so in style with nine goals from seven different players to pick up the win. The victory gave the Rebels the most wins ever in a season at 16 on the year and marked only the second time Ole Miss had won an NCAA Tournament game in five trips to the annual event.
Ole Miss’ only other win in the NCAA Tournament came in 2003 when the Rebels defeated Texas in the first round of play.
Senior forward Rafaelle Souza also notched a hat trick on the night, moving her to the top of the all-time goals list at Ole Miss with 44 goals scored in her three-year career. She bested the mark set by Sarah Comeaux (41) in the 1996 season.
“I felt like it was a complete game us, certainly we were good going forward,” said Ole Miss head coach Matthew Mott. “We got good goals and kind of spread it around. I’m happy with the intensity that we came out with and the energy level. I thought we were very good in the back. I thought our possession was fantastic tonight, I thought that was probably the key to our success. I’m just happy with the team, and now we get to go down and play Florida State on Thursday night in Tallahassee and keep our season going.”
The Rebels got things started early in the match when Bethany Bunker notched the first of nine goals on the night in the third minute of play. Olivia Harrison took a shot that caromed off the near post into the middle of the box and right to the feet of Bunker. Bunker rocketed the ball into the net to give Ole Miss the 1-0 lead.
Souza continued the scoring in the 15th minute when she took the ball about 25 yards out on the near side of the field and dribbled past a bevy of defenders into the box before firing the shot past the far post to give the Rebels the two-goal advantage.
The scoring continued from there with Mandy McCalla getting in on the action in the 16th minute as Jennifer Miller sent the ball in from the far side of the box to McCalla in the middle. The senior gathered the ball and fired it into the net to keep the scoring going for the Rebels.
McCalla then took the opportunity to notch an assist almost 10 minutes later when she sent the ball ahead to Harrison on a breakaway down the far side and the sophomore from Memphis put the ball in the net for the 4-0 lead.
Souza capped the first half scoring in the 36th minute off a nice pair of passes from two freshmen. Gretchen Harknett took the ball on the far side of the box and tapped it ahead to Addie Forbus, who turned and immediately tapped the ball into the center of the box for a waiting Souza. The senior from Brazil notched the goal to give the Rebels a 5-0 lead that would hold at the half.
The Rebels picked up after the break right where the first half ended, as Souza got her first hat trick of the season with a goal in the 53rd minute. Bunker played the ball into Souza from the near side of the box and the senior drilled it past the keeper to extend the Ole Miss lead.
Bunker got her second assist of the night moments later when she again found a senior, this time tapping a ball in to Erin Emerson, who scored to take the lead out to seven goals for the home-standing Rebels.
The underclassmen finished things off from there with the freshman Harknett playing a ball in to the foot of sophomore Jessica Hiskey in the 65th minute to give the Rebels an eighth goal. Forbus then connected with sophomore Sydney Eddy in the 77th minute for a ninth and final goal of the night.
The nine goals was one shy of the NCAA record for goals in a game in the NCAA Tournament set by Texas A&M in the 2004 season.
Ole Miss will now face the region’s top-seeded team in Florida State on Thursday night when the Rebels and Seminoles face-off in Tallahassee at the Seminole Soccer Complex. The Rebels are one of three teams who have already clinched a spot in the second round games in Tallahassee with BYU and Florida State both advancing on Friday. Denver and Colorado will play on Saturday to determine the fourth team to advance from this portion of the bracket.
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