OXFORD, Miss. (Ole Miss Athletics/WTVA) - In front of the largest crowd in Ole Miss Soccer Stadium history, Ole Miss (11-6-1, 5-3-1 SEC) turned things on in the second half to defeat rival No. 25 Mississippi State (9-5-2, 2-5-2 SEC) 2-0 Sunday, retaining the Magnolia Cup for the fifth-consecutive season.
With the win, Ole Miss has officially locked up a bid to the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Alabama. The Rebels are currently tied for fifth in the league table with 16 points, with the top-six seeds earning a bye in the opening round.
With both teams trying to establish their pace of play and find their footing, the first half didn't provide too many fireworks in terms of scoring chances for either side. The Bulldogs owned a 7-3 shot advantage at the break and while freshman Morgan McAslan was forced to make four saves, few really tested the Rebel keeper.
Following the halftime break, Ole Miss came out of the locker room with renewed energy and started to get after their in-state rivals. After a few chances petered out at the end, the Rebels broke through in the 67th minute when Sophie Dineen unloaded a ball over the top for CeCe Kizer and the senior was able to dribble forward and slot her shot past the keeper and neatly into the net for the opening score.
The Rebels used the momentum to continue to get forward and just over three minutes later, Gabby Little doubled the Ole Miss lead. Receiving a cross all the way across the box from Lonnie Mulligan, Little attempted to chip over the keeper and though Rhylee DeCrane was able to paw the ball away it wasn't enough to keep it out of the net.
With the minutes ticking off the clock, Mississippi State threw everything it had at the comeback. The Bulldogs nearly halved the Ole Miss lead Brooke McKee was able to get a shot past a charging McAslan in the 67th-minute but Ella Frischknecht was there to clear off the line and maintain the shutout.
The Bulldogs produced four corner kick opportunities inside the final 11 minutes of the game but each time McAslan and her friends on the back line were up to the challenge, helping the Rebels wrap up the Magnolia Cup victory.
The Rebels will close out the regular season on Thursday, hosting No. 12 Vanderbilt at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium. It will be Senior Day in Oxford, with Ole Miss honoring the six members of its senior class.