OXFORD, Miss. – Senior forward Rafaelle Souza came up big for the Rebels on Sunday afternoon, punching in a pair of goals that included the golden goal in overtime to give No. 23 Ole Miss (13-4-2, 6-3-1 SEC) a 2-1 victory over Alabama (6-11-0, 4-6-0 SEC).
With time running down in the first overtime period, senior Erin Emerson lined up a corner kick from the near side of the field and sent the ball into the box. Souza leaped up over an Alabama defender and headed the ball into the net past the near post to give the Rebels the victory in the 97th minute of play.
It was one of many opportunities the Rebels had on the afternoon, but one of the few not turned away by the Alabama defense and goalkeeper Emily Rusk.
Ole Miss tallied 24 shots on the afternoon, many on set pieces in the box as the Rebels took 12 corners, but only found the back of the net twice. The two times was enough for the win and three more points in the conference standings.
“It was a very hard-fought match today and Sunday’s in the SEC are always tough,” said Ole Miss head coach Matthew Mott. “We got off to a good start and got a good goal. Then Pia Rijsdijk got a good goal when she got free. We took control in the second half, but just couldn’t find the back of the net. Rafa Souza finally got a good one and put it in for us to get us the win.”
Souza put the Rebels on the board first, taking a ball from Olivia Harrison at the top of the box on the far side. The sophomore played the ball to the foot of the senior, who turned and beat a defender before drilling the ball in the net to give Ole Miss the 1-0 lead in the seventh minute of play.
The Rebels kept up the offensive pressure, while the defense turned away the Crimson Tide for most of the first period until right at the end.
With less than a minute to play in the first half, Auburn Mercer found Rijsdijk on the far side and sent the ball in to the streaking forward. Rijsdijk then took the ball into the box on the far side and sent in the shot past the near post to even the match at a goal each.
Ole Miss out-shot the Crimson Tide 8-to-2 in the first half, but the Crimson Tide were able to convert while turning the Rebels away to stay in striking distance.
The attack continued for the Rebels in the second half as Ole Miss widened the margin against Alabama, taking 16 shots to only two for the Crimson Tide in the second half. Again the visiting team’s defense found ways to deny the high-pressure attack of the Rebels to keep Ole Miss off the board and send the match into overtime.
The Rebels took two shots on goal in the overtime period with Souza finding the net on the second shot in the 97th minute.
Ole Miss will close out the regular season at home Thursday when the Rebels host in-state rival Mississippi State at 7 p.m. The two teams will play for the Magnolia Cup which is presented to the winner of the match after each contest.
Admission to all matches is free to the public.
–Bill Bunting, Ole Miss Sports Information