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Soccer prepares for regular season finale, Magnolia Cup

The Ole Miss women’s soccer team wraps up the regular season tonight with an in-state showdown against Mississippi State, looking to gain momentum heading into the SEC Tournament and improve its chances of receiving a bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Austin McAfee/The Daily Mississippian

The Ole Miss women’s soccer team (12-7, 5-7 SEC) will wrap up its 2012 regular season against Mississippi State (8-10-1, 1-10-1 SEC) tonight in Starkville. The two teams will be competing for the Magnolia Cup, which Ole Miss won last season with a 2-0 win against the Lady Bulldogs in Oxford. The Lady Rebels lead the overall series 10-5-3 and has won four of the last five meetings between the two teams.
“It’s State week,” head coach Matt Mott said in his weekly press conference Monday. “It is the Magnolia Cup. I told the team yesterday that any time you get a chance to play for a trophy, it’s special and you want to win that.”
Ole Miss’ focus will not waiver against their in-state rivals, even after they clinched a Southeastern Conference Tournament berth this past weekend. Mott and his squad are still looking at the big picture in preparing for tonight’s match.
“I’d say sitting squarely on the bubble is probably pretty fair,” he said. “We certainly need to get a result against State and do some damage in the SEC tournament to give us a very good chance. With our RPI, we’re sitting right there in the bubble zone.” 
After Mississippi State went 7-0 in its nonconference schedule, it tied South Carolina in its conference opener and then lost 10 of its next 11 games. The Lady Bulldogs’ lone conference victory came against Alabama with a 3-2 win.
“State’s got some talented players, some dangerous front-runners,” Mott said. “They’ve scored a number of goals. (Junior forward) Elizabeth Sullivan for them is a very, very good forward. They’ll be ready. It will be their senior night. We have to be prepared.”
Sullivan leads the team with 10 goals and has four assists to go along with them. Mississippi State has netted 26 goals, but has allowed 34 goals this season. Ole Miss, which has the top two scorers in the SEC in junior midfielder/forward Mandy McCalla with 13 goals and junior forward Rafaelle Souza with 11, will be looking to add to that total.  
Game time for tonight’s Magnolia Cup is set for 7 p.m. Ole Miss will open play on Monday in the Southeastern Conference Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala., in the eight-nine game against an opponent yet to be determined, with quarterfinal play set for Wednesday.
For continuing coverage of Ole Miss soccer, follow @thedm_sports and @WildRebel27 on Twitter.