OXFORD, Miss. Ole Miss used a late first-half goal and a dominating second half to earn a 3-0 victory over Samford in Saturday afternoon’s exhibition match, the final tune-up for the Rebel soccer team’s season opener against the Miami Hurricanes on Friday, Aug. 31.
Ole Miss fired six shots in each half and out-shot the Bulldogs 12-4 for the match. Head coach Steve Holeman used the exhibition to play all 22 of his available players against a quality Samford squad that reached the NCAA Tournament in 2005.
“I thought for sure the second half was better than the first half,” Holeman said. “We don’t expect to be at our best, and that’s exactly why we play an exhibition game. I thought we played well. We did some good things, but Samford definitely let us know what we need to work on. There are some things we need to correct and things we need to be better at, and we’ll have those things taken care of by Friday night.”
After a back-and-forth first period in which the Rebels out-shot the Bulldogs 6-3, sophomore Mallory Coleman used her strong right foot to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead with just 31 seconds remaining. After a Samford foul just outside the corner of the 18-yard box on the left side, Coleman placed a free kick nicely between the goalkeeper’s hands and the crossbar to put Ole Miss ahead entering the locker room.
“What happened was Mallory Coleman bailed us out on an outstanding free kick,” Holeman said. “She has taken some in practice, and she scored in practice. That’s actually the first one she’s taken in live action, and credit her for putting that one in.”
Ole Miss got it going after halftime, adding two goals within the first 10 minutes of play. In the 51st minute, sophomore forward Hannah Weatherly dribbled a ball deep into enemy territory and ended up sliding with the Bulldog keeper toward the ball. As the ball squirted toward the goal, junior All-SEC midfielder Jennifer Hance was able to knock it in from short range.
Just three-and-a-half minutes later, junior defender Austin Brown snuck into scoring range and booted a 20-yard missile to the far post for the third Rebel goal of the afternoon.
“I actually expected us to perform a little better in the first half,” Holeman said. “The second half was a little more what we anticipated with this team.”
The Rebel defense was perhaps even more dominant than the offense, as the squad surrendered just four shot attempts to Samford, none of which required a save from goalkeepers Megan Vickery and Jackie DeNova.
Hance led the Rebels with three shot attempts, including two on goal. Bulldog starting keeper Cayley Winters notched a game-high six saves and allowed one Ole Miss score.
Friday’s season opener vs. Miami is slated for a 7 p.m. kickoff. As part of the “Kroger Family Welcome Party,” all fans will be treated to free hot dogs and there will be a K-9 Air Frisbee Dog Show for halftime entertainment. Tickets cost $5 for adults and $3 for students. Ole Miss students with a valid ID receive free admission.