Ole Miss soccer defeats Mississippi State to retain Magnolia Cup

Published 10:13 pm Thursday, September 22, 2016

For the last three years the Magnolia Cup trophy has found a home in Oxford, and following Thursday night’s rivalry showdown, it will remain there as the Rebels shutout the Bulldogs, 3-0.

Ole Miss (6-5, 1-2 SEC) has now won three-straight in the series after its 13th win all-time against Mississippi State (5-5, 0-3 SEC). The Thursday night battle brought in an announced attendance of 1,278 fans, which goes down in the books as the 10th-largest crowd in the history of the stadium.

Everything went in favor of the home standing Rebels as they picked up their first league win earning three crucial points towards the SEC standings.

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Sophomore CeCe Kizer, the 2015 SEC Freshman of the Year, simply hasn’t caught a break around the net all season, but Thursday, her luck changed as she struck twice in the victory. Senior Liza Harbin got the scoring started early on for her first goal of the season.

In a series that’s heavily favored the Rebels in terms of scoring the last two meetings (6-1), Harbin kept that momentum going thanks to a score in the fifth minute. Senior Gretchen Harknett fired in an attempt from the far side when the ball got deflected at the keeper, before it landed at the feet of Harbin, who punched in the loose ball scoring the third goal of her career.

From there, Kizer’s scoring night didn’t begin until the second half. But, the opportunities weren’t lacking. The Overland Park, Kansas native had four great chances in a matter of 20 minutes, including a shot that hit the cross bar in the 11th, a blocked shot followed by a miraculous save in the 18th, as well as one attempt in the 33rd minute that nailed the right post from 10 yards out.

Following the halftime break though, Kizer’s luck turned around as she found her groove in a matter of minutes. In the 56th, Harknett passed one in from the far side, before Kizer controlled it with her left foot and fired it in from 10 yards out to the right of the keeper putting the Rebels up, 2-0.

Just eight minutes later, she found her stride again, this time off a ball deflected in the box when she kicked it left of the keeper for the final score of the night.

Overall the Rebels dominated the field all night not allowing a Mississippi State shot until the 34th minute in the opening period. The Bulldogs finished with just six shots with two on goal, as the Ole Miss backline did its part in holding the offense at bay.

Ole Miss goalkeeper Marnie Merritt made two saves on the night, and the Rebel offense fired off nine corner kicks, the most in a single match this season.

In a contest that featured the Rebels’ seventh different starting lineup this season, 19 different players saw action including 5-of-7 freshmen.

Ole Miss stays at home to close out its weekend of SEC play Sunday at 2 p.m. against No. 15 Arkansas in a match that will also air live on SEC Network.