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Ole Miss Soccer Ties No. 19 UCF, 2-2, to Remain Unbeaten

Photo courtesy of Robert Jordan / Ole Miss Communications
Photo courtesy of Robert Jordan / Ole Miss Communications

The Ole Miss soccer team kept its unbeaten record intact Friday evening, walking away with a hard-fought 2-2 draw against No. 19 UCF. The Rebels (3-0-2) scored in the third minute to take an early lead before finding the equalizer in the 89th minute to force extra time.

“What a game for us to go up, give the lead away, and then come back and tie it. I’m really proud of the way our team battled and scoring in the 88th minute to tie it,” said Ole Miss Head Coach Matthew Mott. “We battled really hard in overtime and couldn’t find the game winner. This early in the season, a team as high-quality as UCF, in the end it is a good result for us.

Ole Miss battled nationally-ranked UCF (3-1-1) throughout the night, shooting nearly even with the Knights. The Rebels outshot the Knights by a small margin of 17-15 over the course of the double overtime matchup. Ole Miss goalkeeper Marnie Merrittplayed for the entire 110 minutes, as did senior defender Samantha Sanders. Merritt also notably notched a career-high in saves, tallying five on the night. Junior Danielle Gray scored his second goal of the season on a penalty kick, while freshman CeCe Kizer extended her goal-scoring streak to four matches with her game-tying fifth goal of the season. With less than two minutes remaining senior Olivia Harrison played a great ball into Kizer, who placed her shot into the right side of the goal.

“She is smooth in front of the goal. If you give her the ball in the good spots and she is going to create something,” noted Mott about Kizer. “She had a chance earlier in the game, but that goal there with the composure. That was really big time for us to tie it up and get us into overtime.”

The Rebels were the first to get the ball into the net as they capitalized on a UCF handball. Gretchen Harknett took a corner kick, giving Jessica Hiskey an opportunity to shoot the ball. Hiskey’s shot ricocheted off a UCF hand in the box to give the Rebels a chance to take the early advantage. Gray took the penalty shot and sent the ball into the net in just the third minute of the game.

The next 43 minutes of the first half were filled with offensive attacks on both sides of the ball, but the defense held strong and neither team was able to convert for another goal. In the 37th minute, Merritt slid in to make the diving save on an aggressive attack by UCF. Addie Forbus continued to press for Ole Miss, making another run at the goal with three minutes to play in the first half, taking a shot from the 18-yard box but it was just over of the net, barely clearing the crossbar.

The action continued when both teams stepped back on the pitch for the second half. Megan Fish took a shot, but Merritt came up with the save. However, Carol Rodrigues took advantage of the deflection and UCF was able to convert for their first goal of the game in the 56th minute. The Rebels responded to the Knights’ goal in the next minute as Forbus took the ball down the pitch, crossing the ball to the left and giving Kizer the shot. The UCF goalkeeper was able to come up with the diving save and the score remained tied.

UCF’s Rodriques scored the second goal for the Knights in the 72nd minute on a penalty kick. Both teams continued to fight until the last minute with UCF holding onto their 2-1 lead. With less than two minutes on the clock, Kizer send the ball into the goal to tie the game for the Rebels after a crisp pass from Harrison, sending the two teams into overtime.

Both teams threatened in the first overtime, but neither was able to get the goal. Forbus had another great run down the middle of the pitch, bringing the Rebels in on their closest attack before the UCF keeper emerged from the box to make a save.

Ole Miss headed into its second double overtime of the season tied 2-2 with UCF. Kayla Adamek was able to put the ball into the Ole Miss net, but the Knights’ score was marked as a no-goal on an offside call. The Rebels continued to battle until the last second, though the game ultimately resulted in a 2-2 tie with a ranked UCF team.

“That’s an SEC level game for us right there,” said Mott. “I think it was good after the three games that we played to get that kind of emotion and intensity in a non-conference game. There is a reason that they are 19th in the country. I thought they were really good, but we battled toe-to-toe with them. I really like the way our team fought. At the end, it is a good result for us certainly.

Ole Miss finishes the weekend with another home match. The Rebels will take on Arkansas-Little Rock on Sunday evening at 5 p.m. at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium. Fans can tune into the action on SEC Network+.

Courtesy of Ole Miss Sports Information

Adam Brown
Adam Brown
Sports Editor

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