The Ole Miss soccer team fought to the end and earned a 2-2 draw with UCF Friday night at the Ole Miss soccer complex. The Rebels remained undefeated and moved to 3-0-2 on the season, while the Knights moved to 3-1-1.
“Obviously we wanted the win, but we’ll take a tie with a really tough team,” CeCe Kizer, freshman forward and defender, said.
The Rebels took an early lead and scored in the third minute. After a corner kick, senior defenseman Jessica Hiskey hit the ball back into the box and it hit a UCF defender in the hand, giving the Rebels a penalty kick. Junior defender Danielle Gray knocked the penalty kick into the lower left corner to put Ole Miss ahead 1-0.
The Knights evened the score in the 57th minute when junior forward Carol Rodrigues knocked it home after a scramble in the box on a corner kick. UCF took the lead in the 72nd minute, when redshirt freshman goalkeeper Marnie Merritt fouled a UCF forward, giving the Knights a penalty kick. Rodrigues converted it to score her second goal of the game and give the Knights the 2-1 lead.
The Rebels kept fighting, however, and Kizer tied the match with under two minutes remaining. The UCF goalkeeper tried to punch out a corner kick, but the ball went straight to senior forward and midfielder Olivia Harrison, who headed it back in front of the goal to Kizer, who tapped it in. Kizer continued her hot streak, scoring her fifth goal in the Rebels’ last four games.
“I think we played great,” head coach Matthew Mott said. “I’m really happy with the team. I’m really proud of the way our team battled. We’re still undefeated. Five games in, I’m pretty happy.”
Ole Miss 1, Arkansas-LittleRock 0 (OT)
Kizer scored yet another goal, this one a game winner in overtime, to give Ole Miss a 1-0 victory against Arkansas-Little Rock. The Rebels improved to 4-0-2, while the Trojans fell to 3-3-0.
“I don’t even remember the moment because I had so much adrenaline,” Kizer said.
Gray took the ball near the end line and tried to cross the ball to Kizer. It ricocheted off of an Arkansas-Little Rock defender, but Kizer was able to adjust and send her shot past the goalkeeper. The goal was Kizer’s sixth of the season, which leads the team.
The Trojans were content to sit back and defend, and their defensive-minded approach frustrated the Rebel offense.
“Their goalkeeper played fantastic,” Mott said. “Sometimes you run into a hot goalkeeper and it makes it really hard. I think we’re fortunate to get out of here with a win in overtime because of the way they defended.”
The Rebels had plenty of opportunities to score in the first half. The best chance came when junior defender Georgia Russell ran into the box and was taken down, earning a penalty kick. Junior midfielder Gretchen Harknett took the kick, but her shot was saved by senior Trojan goalkeeper Sara Small, who made 13 saves on the day and kept her team in the game.
The Rebels took 30 shots, 17 in the first half, but remained positive even as their numerous attempts to find the back of the net were unsuccessful.
“I’m happy with the way they kept pressing and kept getting after it. There are plenty of SEC teams that have had games very similar to this and they’ve walked away with a 0-0 draw,” Mott said. “For us to finish the game was huge.”
The Rebels open SEC play Friday night at home against Kentucky. Kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.