BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) – It was a tale of two halves on Sunday night as what started as an offensive match turned into a defensive struggle in the second half between the Rebels and Blazers.
Ole Miss (2-0) got all the offense it needed in the first half, though, and added two goals in the closing minutes of the game to grab a 5-2 victory over UAB (1-1) on the road. The Rebels got all five goals from different players to snatch the win.
“It was a great first half to get out to a quick lead,” said Ole Miss head coach Matthew Mott. “They responded and put us back on our heels a little bit, but I’m proud of the way we answered in the second half. It’s never easy to win on the road and we played well in a hostile environment in front of a great crowd.
“We moved the ball really well again tonight and five goal scorers tells you all you really need to know. We’re making it hard to know who to key in on offensively. Now we have to go home and spend the next week getting ready for Northwestern State in front of a rowdy home crowd.”
Five minutes into the game, the Rebels got on the board with a fast break that saw Olivia Harrison send the ball to Rafaelle Souza at the top of the box on the far side. Souza then sent the ball in past a leaping keeper to put Ole Miss on top of the Blazers 1-0.
The Rebels continued to build on the lead in the first half when Jennifer Miller scored her third goal of the season in the 20th minute. Souza took a shot that was blocked by a UAB defender. Miller gathered the deflection and lined it up, putting it in over the head of the goalkeeper to give Ole Miss the 2-0 advantage.
Ole Miss added a third goal in the 25th minute when Souza took the ball on the far side and sent a cross to Bethany Bunker on the near side. The wide open Bunker buried the ball in the back of the net to give the Rebels the 3-0 lead.
The Blazers responded in the 33rd minute with a goal of their own. UAB took the ball off a throw in and went down the far side of the field, sending the ball forward to Megan Collins. Collins then sent a cross to Paige Hanks on the near side who scored to put UAB on the board.
Four minutes ticked off the clock before the Blazers took a defensive stop and turned it into an attack, driving down the field and converting on a second goal to cut the lead to 3-2 with another goal from Hanks.
Olivia Harrison put the lead back out to two goals in the 82nd minute when she took the ball in the box from ?, turned and drilled it past the keeper to make it 4-2 in favor of the Rebels.
Mandy McCalla then capped the scoring for the Rebels in the 87th minute, taking the ball on the far side of the box and dribbling past a defender before squaring up and nailing the shot to take the lead out to the 5-2 final margin of victory.
The Rebels will return to action on Friday night, hosting the Northwestern State Demons at 7 p.m. at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium.