STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA/Ole Miss Athletics) - After entering the halftime break down 1-0 to rival Mississippi State (8-4-4, 2-4-3 SEC), Ole Miss (10-4-3, 3-4-2 SEC) picked up the pace in the second half, battling back for a 1-1 draw to earn an important SEC point with just one match to go in the regular season.
After 110 minutes, the action ended up fairly even with Mississippi State owning a slight 20-17 advantage in shots. Rebel goalkeeper Marnie Merritt came up huge time after time, making nine saves on the night, one off of her career-high.
While Ole Miss created a few dangerous situations in the first 45 minutes, it was the Bulldogs who entered the break up 1-0. After earning a corner kick in the 36th minute, a dangerous cross was whipped in and Brooke McKee got on the end of it, sending the ball across the face of goal and in.
If not for the play of Merritt, the deficit could have been even greater for the Rebels. The junior keeper made four saves in the first half, including a big stop on a McKee effort in the 27th minute.
Whereas Mississippi State controlled much of the pace in the first half, the Rebels began to put some pressure on the Bulldog backline in the second stanza.
After a number of chances went just awry for Ole Miss, Gabby Little and CeCe Kizer combined to tie the score in the 70th minute. Little drove down the left wing and found Kizer open at the top of the 18-yard box. Kizer used a shimmy to create a little space and tucked her shot into the bottom corner.
Just moments later, Mississippi State nearly struck right back on a header by Khalyn Harmon but Merritt was able to make an acrobatic leaping save to keep the score tied. Merritt again came up huge just a few minute later, smothering a direct free kick from just outside the box.
Ole Miss stayed on the front foot for the closing minutes of the half but at the end of regulation the score remained 1-1 and the two sides headed for overtime.
With the clouds opening up during overtime, bringing heavy rain down on the pitch, both teams created some decent chances. Carly Mauldin had perhaps the best chance, sending a rocket in the 118th minute that seemed destined for the upper 90. However, Merritt was having none of it, diving to her left and punching the shot away as the two teams settled for a 1-1 draw.
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