Sept. 27, 2013
OXFORD, Miss. — The Ole Miss soccer team broke into the national rankings at No. 24 in this week's NSCAA Top 25 rankings, and senior Rafaelle Souza played in a big role in it.
Souza scored the game-tying and game-winning goals in a 2-1 win at Arkansas in the Rebels' Southeastern Conference opener this past Friday, and with two more goals in a 3-0 win against Arkansas-Little Rock this past Sunday, she now leads the nation with 11 goals and 25 points.
She also continues to move up the program's all-time lists for goals and points. She moved into fifth place all-time with 82 points, 17 points behind Jennifer Soileau for first place, and into third place all-time with 33 goals, eight behind Sarah Comeaux for first place.
"I know it's hard to lead the nation like that, but I'm mostly thankful for all my teammates because I couldn't have done it by myself," Souza said. "They're playing well and supporting me. I couldn't do it without them."
One of those teammates is senior forward Mandy McCalla, who is second on the team with seven and 17 points. Last season, they tied for the SEC lead with 13 goals and 33 points.
"We're good friends," Souza said. "We're always messing around and making jokes. We play together. We don't care who's leading or not. We both want to do the best for our team."
"They get a chance (to score), and they have a really good idea of how to score and where to put the ball," head coach Matt Mott said.
While most of her teammates remained on campus this summer, Souza returned to her native Brazil, where she not only worked out on her own, but also cleared her mind to get ready for her senior season.
"During the summer, I was in Brazil working out and doing my job by myself," Souza said. "I think sometimes you need a break. I had been playing soccer since I was 14, and I never stopped and never had a break. This summer, I had a break from soccer, and I was ready to go this year."
Souza and the Rebels look to carry the momentum of a four-game winning streak and a win in their SEC opener into this weekend, as they host No. 7 Florida and Auburn.
Austin Miller is a writer and blogger for OleMissSports.com. He joined the staff in June 2013 after serving as sports editor of the Daily Mississippian. Follow him on Twitter @austinkmiller