Rafaelle Souza and the Rebels take on Mississippi State this Thursday night.
Oct. 29, 2013
OXFORD, Miss. – The nationally-ranked Rebels will close out the regular season at home Thursday when No. 23 Ole Miss (13-4-2, 6-3-1 SEC) hosts Mississippi State (3-14-0, 0-10-0 SEC) in the latest iteration of the Magnolia Cup at 7 p.m. at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium.
The Rebels take the field on Thursday coming off a win over Alabama on Sunday and playing for an NCAA Tournament berth and seeding after locking up a top-five finish in the Southeastern Conference standings and a first-round bye in the SEC Tournament that begins next week.
The Rebels are also one win away from tying the school record for wins in a regular season set in the 2005 season.
“(When we play Mississippi State) we throw out the records and we play,” said Ole Miss head coach Matthew Mott. “It’s been tight every year we’ve played them. They have one of the best forwards in the league in Elisabeth Sullivan, who’s scored 14 goals this season. We have two of the best forwards in the league in Rafaelle Souza and Mandy McCalla. Hopefully there will be some goals. It should be a very exciting game, certainly on Halloween.”
Ole Miss is paced offensively by a pair of seniors in Souza and McCalla, who have etched their names near the top of the record books in Rebel history. Souza is second in the SEC in goals this season (16), while McCalla is fifth in the league (11).
The duo are also among the top five in career goals for the Rebels, with 38 and 33 goals as Rebels heading into the match against the Bulldogs.
Souza hit both goals on Sunday to lift the Rebels to the overtime win against the Crimson Tide, giving her four game-winning goals this season, while McCalla leads the team with five.
The Ole Miss defense has also been a bright spot for the Rebels this season with eight shutouts on the year. The Rebels have also conceded an average of only one goal a game with the Rebels allowing 19 goals through 19 games, while scoring 45 goals in that same time.
Kelly McCormick has 13 wins this season, tying her personal best mark for wins in a season set last year and putting her one win shy of tying the career win mark at Ole Miss. A win on Thursday would give McCormick her 32nd career win.
The Rebel defense will have to respond to the challenge of limiting opportunities for the Bulldogs’ star forward in Elisabeth Sullivan. Sullivan has been a consistent scoring threat for Mississippi State this season, putting the ball in the net 15 times this season to sit at fourth in the SEC for goals scored.
Mississippi State has been allowing almost three goals a game this season.
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