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Soccer gets first SEC win against Alabama

Quentin Winstine/The Daily Mississippian

SUNDAY: OLE MISS 3, ALABAMA 0
The game was a must-win for Ole Miss. Riding a four-game losing skid, including their first three SEC games, the Rebels (5-6-1, 1-3 SEC) found what they were looking for in a 3-0 victory Sunday afternoon over Alabama (6-3-2, 1-2-1 SEC)
“That’s a complete game for us,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Mott said. “That’s 90 minutes we defended very well, we scored three, I think, really good goals. That’s the kind of performance we’ve been wanting.”
Ole Miss did not wait long to get on the board as sophomore sensation Rafaelle Souza scored her eighth goal of year when she headed in a rebound in the 11th minute. Senior defender Meredith Snow recorded her first goal of the year when she scored on corner kick from sophomore defender Alix Hildal.
“It feels good,” Snow said. “I don’t get a lot of opportunities to score so I’m definitely happy.”
Souza added to her goal count, a team-high nine for the season, with another in the 56th minute.
Freshman goalkeeper Kelly McCormick started in her first SEC match for the Rebels and did not let the pressure get to her as she recorded her first career solo shutout.
“I felt great,” McCormick said. “The team did really well and it made my job a little easier.”
Mott hopes getting their first conference win of the season is a sign that his team is turning things around.
“I felt we turned on Friday against Auburn,” he said. “We played really well against Auburn. The girls understood and knew what it took, and then we came out here and got a result we really needed.”
With the win, Ole Miss improves to 4-1 at home, having outscored opponents 21-4 in those games.

FRIDAY: AUBURN 3, OLE MISS 2
In another closely contested match, Ole Miss came up just short.
The Rebels were narrowly defeated by the Auburn Tigers 3-2 Friday night in very physical game. The two teams combined for 27 fouls, in addition to two yellow cards presented to Auburn
“It was a great SEC game,” Mott said. “Just hard fought, back and forth, and it’s one of those games that’s really tough to lose.”
Auburn struck first when junior midfielder Ana Cate dribbled the ball through the Rebel defense and then won a one-on-one battle with senior goalkeeper Alley Ronaldi in the 15th minute. It remained a one-goal lead for the Tigers throughout much of the first half until senior midfielder Jenna Strother, an Auburn native, tied the game in the 39th minute when scored on a cross from sophomore Souza. The Tigers answered in the final minute of the first half when Auburn senior forward Lydia Townsend scored off a rebound shot to give Auburn a 2-1 advantage.
The intensity continued to build throughout the first half and culminated in the 52nd minute. Ole Miss sophomore midfielder Mandy McCalla took a high knee in the face from Auburn senior defender Julie King that earned King a yellow card.
This seemed to awaken the Rebels as well as the crowd. McCalla came out of the game, but returned later in the half with a swollen left eye.
“Mandy plays so hard and she’s one of our really special players and she can do so many things,” Mott said. “Having her battle in the second half like she did with her eye swelling just goes to a credit to her and her fight and determination.”
McCalla did not just come back into the game, she also contributed. After Auburn extended their lead to 3-1 in the 72nd minute, McCalla answered just 13 seconds later on an unassisted score to make it 3-2.
“It felt good to get a goal and actually contribute,” McCalla said. “When you get hurt you always think, ‘Shoot now I have to get back into the flow of the game,’ but I felt like I came out just about the same as the first half and played hard and did my best.”
Ole Miss threatened during the last 17 minutes of the game, but could not capitalize on their many chances. Auburn held on for the victory to hand the Rebels their third-straight SEC loss.