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Rebels Rebound with Hard-Fought Draw

Playing in their fourth overtime game of the season, the Ole Miss soccer team played Arkansas to a 1-1 double-overtime draw on Thursday night. 

The teams combined for 30 shots, including 13 on goal, but the game was characterized more by the physical play with a combined 22 fouls and two yellow cards for Arkansas in the second half. 

"When you get into the SEC games, the intensity and physical are up," head coach Matt Mott said. "Both teams were really fighting for the three points. When you have days like that, you have to be physically ready, and our guys did a good job of getting ready and up for the game."

"It was a battle," junior Jessica Hiskey said. "We knew coming out they were going to be very physical and very good in the air, so we knew he had to challenge for everything and keep digging out the second balls."

Arkansas went ahead 1-0 with a goal in the 15th minute and held the one-goal advantage for much of the game before sophomore Gretchen Harknett found the equalizer in the 69th minute on a bending ball from the top of the box to beat the keeper.

It was a big goal for the Rebels, not only battling back to draw even in the match, but also coming off a 4-0 loss at Central Florida this past Sunday.

"We needed it for our confidence," said Mott of the goal. "We needed it for our mentality. Gretchen Harknett is a good player for us, and it's big for her to get that goal and help us settle things down. We created plenty of chances. We should have gotten one in the first half and maybe it would have been a different second half."

With the draw, Ole Miss moves to 6-2-3 overall, 1-0-2 in Southeastern Conference play, ahead of a Sunday showdown with No. 10 Texas A&M, the second-highest ranked team in the league behind No. 7 Florida. The Aggies (7-1-1) are led by the top scoring scoring duo in the SEC in seniors Shea Groom and Kelley Monogue who have combined for 15 goals this season.

"They're really good," Mott said. "They're worthy of their rankings, but it's an SEC game, and we're in every SEC game that we play. It will be a big challenge for us on Sunday, but one that the girls are certainly looking forward to. A&M is very good and they are explosive offensively. Hopefully we can create some things against them."

Leading 1-0 after controlling the play for much of the game, Ole Miss opened up a 3-0 lead on Middle Tennessee with a pair of goals in the final minute of the first half on the way to a 4-0 win Sunday.

After scoring the first goal of the match, sophomore Addie Forbus broke free, looking for her second goal. Her initial shot was blocked by the MTSU keeper but sophomore Georgia Russell controlled the rebound and scored inside the far post.

"Addie was 1-v-1 with the goalkeeper, and she really made it happen," Russell said. "I followed through and there was nobody out there besides me and Addie, so I took a shot, and luckily it went in."

"She smacked that ball on a dime," Forbus said. "She put it right in the far post. It was perfect. It was a great goal."

For Russell, it was a long, winding road to her first career goal after suffering an injury in the preseason two years ago and then suffering another season-ending injury last October.

"It was a struggle," Russell said. "I had to get back in shape and get my touch back on the ball. I hurt my ankle last season. It's been a struggle and I'm getting there. It looks like things are coming together. I'm 100 percent healthy, and I want to keep it that way."

Seconds later, after a scramble in the box, sophomore Sara Coleman came up with the loose ball off a deflection and passed it to junior Jennifer Miller, who scored with two seconds left on the clock for her first goal of the season.

"We tell to our team that it's a 90-minutes game, and each half is 45 minutes, so play it to end," head coach Matt Mott said. "I really like our fitness level. We are a fit team, and when you're fit like that, you can handle the end of halves. And I also like our rotation, both up front and in the midfield, getting a lot of guys some minutes, which are getting them ready to play and also helps with the fitness level late in halves."

In the second half, sophomore Gretchen Harknett added to the scoring and joined Russell and Miller in scoring her first goal of the season, as she converted a penalty kick after Coleman was taken down in the box.

"It was really big for Gretchen Harknett," Mott said. "She's played really well all nonconference, and for her to get on the board was big for her because she's had a couple of really good looks. If she starts scoring, we're going to be really dangerous and she's right there."

"A lot of people thought without the big-star names that we weren't able to put any goals in, but we have shown that we still have a great offense and attack, and we're really dangerous when we get the ball in dangerous areas," Forbus said.

With Sunday's win, Ole Miss improves to 5-1-2 on the season, and despite the six goals on the weekend, Mott looks for the team to improves its finishing ahead of a two-match road swing at Mississippi State on Friday and Central Florida in its final nonconference match on Sunday.

"We have to spend some time in practice on finishing for sure," Mott said. "We're doing a good job of creating chance and now we have to find the back of net. It's obviously really hard to do. On Friday night down at Austin Peay, we had a number of chances too that we just weren't clean enough up in front of goal, so it has to be a focus for us this week certainly, and we'll do that. And hopefully clean it up for Friday."

Soccer Scrimmages Under The Lights

 

 The Ole Miss soccer team scrimmaged on Friday night at FNC Park in Oxford. Head coach Matt Mott said he was "overall very, very pleased" with the scrimmage. Among the individual standouts, Mott mentioned seniors Rafaelle Souza and Mandy McCalla, as well as a trio of freshmen in Addie Forbus, Melissa Capocaccia and Gretchen Harknett. The Rebels open the 2013 season on Friday, August 23, at 7 p.m. against Louisiana-Lafayette at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium.
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