On a crisp Autumn night in Oxford, Ole Miss battled Auburn to a 2-2 draw. After 90 hard-fought minutes, an Auburn player took a shot off her left foot and put one in the back of the net. However, the whistle blew, and it was waved off due to offsides.
It was fouls and whistles that headlined the entire match, with Ole Miss’ Ella Johnson being sent off with a red card in the 73 minute.
“You know you have to play the game,” head coach Matt Mott. “It’s one of those things where I am not happy that we got a red card, but (the referee) saw what he saw, and that hurt us. Had he not called us, I think we would have gotten a chance to win the game.”
On the play, the ball was called dead, and Ella Johnson lunged for the ball, which found the face of an Auburn striker lying on the ground.
“I think you just look at it like a late hit out of bounds (in football),” Mott said. “She just had all her momentum going and couldn’t slow down and smacked the ball, and it was just really unfortunate that it hit the player on the ground.”
For the next 35 minutes, the Rebels were forced to play a man down, and it was time for the back line to step up and help out Marnie Merritt in net.
“Everybody stepped up and knew what we had to do,” goalkeeper Marnie Merritt said. “Liza Harbin stepped up big. Grace Johnson stepped up big, and I think we did everything we were supposed to do. We tried to possess a lot with 10 men, which typically, against a good team, isn’t going to happen, but we were able to pull it off, and I’m happy with it.”
Despite how difficult it is to continue playing when the play is constantly being stopped, forward CeCe Kizer continued to find success like she has done all season. In the draw, she recorded two more goals and extended her SEC lead in total goals scored.
“Coming off of the A&M game, I had a lot of chances to put the game away, but I didn’t,” Kizer said. “I kind of let that fuel my fire, and I tried to create a lot of opportunities, and I think I did. I was able to put both of my goals in the upper-90, which was nice.”
Despite the draw against Auburn, Mott and the team aren’t going to let it negatively affect them before heading to Starkville to take on rival Mississippi State on Sunday.
“It’s just one of those games,” Mott said. “It doesn’t matter where we are, and it doesn’t matter where they are in the standings. It’s just a rivalry. You just throw out the records, and you go for it. It’s for a trophy. It’s one of the few times in a year that you get to play for a trophy in one game. We have had it, and we want to bring it back home.”
The Rebels will turn around and face the Bulldogs at 4 p.m. in Starkville, playing for bragging rights for the rest of the season and hoping to solidify their seeding in the SEC Tournament. The game will be streamed on the SEC Network.