In a top 20 showdown Friday night, the No. 3 South Carolina Gamecocks dominated the No. 18 Ole Miss Rebels in their second loss of the season.
After a game full of tension, fouls and a yellow card, the 10-1 Gamecocks ultimately outplayed the Rebels to a final score of 2-0.
“Our effort was really good, and our intensity was good,” head coach Matt Mott said. “But our execution just wasn’t good enough, especially against a team like that.”
From the beginning, both sides were fighting for dominance on the field as the ball traveled back and forth. But the Gamecocks quickly found their groove; just nine minutes into the first half, South Carolina’s Elexa Bahr found the back of the net.
The Rebels did not take a shot on goal until 25 minutes into the first half, which is surprising for a team with 43 total goals on the season. Instead of playing their own game, the Rebels found themselves chasing South Carolina’s ball around the field for the majority of the game.
“We made a lot of mistakes at critical points, which cost us,” Mott said. “Overall, I was disappointed with our execution, but I liked our fight, and we defended hard against a difficult team.”
Mott wasn’t the only one who was impressed with the Rebels despite their loss. Goalkeeper Marnie Merritt felt her team didn’t disappoint against a highly ranked team.
“We did pretty well,” Merritt said. “Overall, to hold a team like that to basically 1-0 for the majority of the game is phenomenal for us, and everything we take and we learn and we look forward to Tennessee.”
The game quickly turned from aggressive to physical. With calls in both halves that rattled both teams and their spectators alike, the game could have gotten out of hand. But according to Merritt, the Rebels just tried to stay focused.
“We try not to let that affect us and dictate the play of the game,” Merritt said. “We take what happens, and we learn from it.”
The second half was rougher and tougher for the Rebels. Just 15 minutes into play, Gamecock Ryan Gareis scored to make it 2-0. That scoreline would not change throughout the remainder of the match.
“It’s just a bump in the road for us,” Merritt said. “We take each game one at a time, and we’ll get ready for a big game against Tennessee and then LSU.”
The Rebels, now 9-1-2, will continue their SEC play on the road against the University of Tennessee Volunteers at 6 p.m. Thursday night in Knoxville. For now, however, it’s back to the practice field.
“We have to get back to the training grounds and get cleaned up for a very good Tennessee game, and that has to be our focus,” Mott said. “We would have had to play a lot better tonight than we did to score a point, so we just have to be a lot better the next time.”