OXFORD, Miss. – Senior forward Rafaelle Souza became the second player selected in a primary draft in Ole Miss soccer history when she was taken by the Houston Dash in the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) College Draft on Friday.
Souza was selected by the Dash 10th overall with the first pick of the second round, becoming the second pick of the day by Houston – an expansion team in the NWSL. She joins former Rebel Danielle Johnson as the only other player drafted to play professional soccer from Ole Miss.
Johnson was taken in the fourth round of the 2010 Women’s Professional Soccer Draft by the Sky Blue FC.
“We’re very proud of Rafa on being drafted,” said Ole Miss head coach Matthew Mott. “It’s certainly something she’s worked hard for and deserves. She’s been a great ambassador for our program, for the Southeastern Conference and women’s soccer in her time at Ole Miss. I’m a big Houston Dash fan now.”
In her three-year career for the Rebels, Souza has been an integral part of building the program back towards the top of the SEC, and bringing Ole Miss soccer back to the national stage with a trip to the NCAA Tournament in 2013.
The forward earned All-SEC honors as both a junior and senior, and also claimed SEC Scholar Athlete of the Year honors both seasons. She was named an All-Region selection following her junior campaign before claiming second team All-America honors this past season from the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA).
Souza notched an SEC-leading 22 goals on the season and ranked third nationally in goals. She also finished second nationally in points with 50 after adding six assists for the Rebels this season and leading the SEC in points.
Of her 22 goals this season past season, six of them were game-winners for the Rebels, while she also turned in seven multiple-goal matches on the year. Her best performance came with a hat trick against Jackson State in the NCAA Tournament.
Souza is now the all-time leader at Ole Miss in both career goals (44) and points (108) after three seasons of competition.
She helped lead the Rebels to a record-setting season in 2013 as Ole Miss went 16-5-2 on the year and spent seven weeks ranked in the top 25 nationally, reaching as high as No. 22 in the polls. The 16 wins were the most in program history as Ole Miss advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time ever and advanced past the first round for the second time in program history.
The Rebels hosted Jackson State in the first round of the NCAA Tournament, marking the first time Ole Miss had ever hosted NCAA Tournament play in soccer, before falling at third-ranked Florida State in the second round by a score of 3-1. The Seminoles went on to play for the national title, falling in the championship game to UCLA.
–Bill Bunting, Ole Miss Sports Information
Souza Drafted by Houston Dash of National Women's Soccer League
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