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Senior forward Mandy McCalla netted the game-winner, as Ole Miss improved to 11-3-1 and 4-2 in SEC play with a 1-0 win over Vanderbilt on Friday night. The defense, led by junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick, posted its seventh shutout of the season.


"It's a really good win for us," head coach Matt Mott said. "Defensively, we played really well against three great forwards on Vanderbilt. And then we created a lot on the other side. We couldn't get them to go in, but we created a lot, which was important.


"I'm proud of the way we battled and fought and kept them off the board, and then Mandy got a good goal for us. I'm happy with what we created. Some nights they go in, some nights they don't. Tonight, we hit too many posts and too many at the keeper."


Ole Miss outshot Vanderbilt 30-5 but did not find the back of net until the 58th minute when McCalla scored her 11th goal of the season off a deflection from a shot by sophomore midfielder Jennifer Miller.


"All of us tonight hit every single part of the goal except the back of the net," McCalla said. "We had a lot of opportunities to be creative and attack them, and then to score one, it was relieving."


"It was huge to settle the game down a little bit for us," Mott said. "We were pressing and pressing and pressing. A lot of times you get out of that first half and you haven't scored a goal and you had some good chances, you start to get tighter, so Mandy did a good job of finishing that off for us and getting us a lead and then we could settle down and continue to play."


Sophomore Jessica Hiskey, who started all 22 games on the backline for the Rebels last year, got the start in place of sophomore Samantha Sanders, who suffered a knee injury in last Sunday's 3-1 win over Georgia. She and her teammates helped shutout Vanderbilt for just the second time this season.


"I was a little nervous coming in, just this week being back in the starting lineup, but I was really prepared and look forward to working hard in the coming weeks," Hiskey said. "My teammates gave me confidence that I could come in and do well and kept me upbeat during the game."


"She was a left back for us last year, and then we moved her into the center tonight," Mott said. "She fought like crazy. She's one of the toughest kids on our team. Her effort in there tonight was just awesome for her first start after the injury and then play 90 minutes, I'm just really happy with her."


After a week off, the Rebels return to the pitch for a split home-and-away weekend against two of the top teams in the SEC. They travel to Baton Rouge to take on conference leader LSU on Friday, then return home for a match against No. 13 South Carolina on Sunday.


"I like where we are," Mott said. "We're doing a good job defensively and in the attack. I like the way we're playing and excited about these last five matches."

McCalla Named Team Captain


Senior forward Mandy McCalla, who earned All-SEC honors from the coaches and tied for the conference lead with 13 goals and 33 points last season, will wear the captain's armband for the Rebels this season.


"She's a leader for us," head coach Matt Mott said of McCalla. "She understands completely what we're trying to do, and how we're trying to do it. I trust her and believe in what she does. She brings the best out of everybody. She demands it out of herself first, then her teammates next. That's what you want in a leaders, and the girls absolutely respect her."


McCalla tied for the conference lead in goals and points with her teammate, senior Rafaelle Souza, and they are two of six seniors on the team.


"We have a good senior class that is going to carry us," he said. "We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, but we have a strong senior class. You win with seniors, and we have six seniors."


Defense First


As the Rebels prepared for their season opener, at home, against Louisiana-Lafayette at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 23, Mott said the first emphasis will be on the back line.


"The good thing is we're starting out further along than we ever have, so we're starting a higher level," he said. "We've got to get our defensive game plan and figure out who we're going to play in the back because we have some options. I think we always want to put in the defense first. 


"We're going to score goals with Mandy and Rafa, and Bethany Bunker and Olivia Harrison all returning, and the new guys, we're putting in Addie Forbus and Mackenze Parma. We're going to score goals. We got to get sold defensively first."


A trio of sophomores -- Maddie Friedmann, Jessica Hiskey and Samantha Sanders -- started all 22 games as freshmen, and they all return to anchor the back line for the Rebels, along with junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick who started all 22 games in goal and posted eight shutout victories last season.


"That, to me is exciting going into this season that we have all of those guys back," he said. "The whole back line is back, and you have Kelly in goal, who will be a junior now. Those guys who are sophomores have a full year under their belt and they look great."


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