Ole Miss soccer’s season ends in SEC Tournament

Published 11:09 pm Monday, October 31, 2016

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. Sometimes the bounce doesn’t always go the way you want it. That was the case for Ole Miss soccer in the first round of the SEC Tournament Monday afternoon, falling in a 2-0 heartbreaker to Tennessee.

The Rebels (9-11-0, 4-7 SEC), who created chance after chance, put up a valiant effort clawing until the very end, unfortunately ending the 2016 season and collegiate careers for seven special players.

“I couldn’t be more proud of this senior class,” head coach Matthew Mott said. “They left everything on the field and played as well as we’ve played all season. Soccer can just be a really cruel sport sometimes. I’m really proud of all seven of them; they’ve left the program in a better spot.”

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By an unofficial count, the Rebels’ attack hit the post at least three times in the match, and pressured their way into multiple dangerous situations on the attacking line. Overall the Rebels put up 19 total shots, the most in a game since early September, posting six on goal keeping Tennessee keeper Shae Yanez busy throughout the afternoon.

After a chip shot 40 seconds in that put Tennessee up 1-0, the Rebels found their way in an uphill battle from the start, but didn’t back down from the challenge. Freshman Gabby Little found herself in the middle of the offensive action multiple times, including in the 18th minute when she weaved through defenders and fired off a shot that was blocked.

Thirteen minutes later, she again diced her way through the traffic of the Tennessee backline and played a ball in to Bella Fiorenzo, before her attempt was saved keeping the contest 1-0 in favor of the Vols.

A crucial part of the game came in the 35th minute when senior Melissa Capocaccia served in a beautiful ball into the box, senior Sara Coleman got it and punched it in for the goal, but an apparent, controversial call on Addie Forbus vs. the goalkeeper negated the goal keeping the score 1-0. Coleman again responded five minutes later with another great look, but it was blocked.

After the halftime break, the Rebels came out firing as freshman Alley Houghton got a look at the far post, but it was saved in the 54th. Ten minutes later, another freshman, Grace Waugh, got a somewhat open look on the near post and skirted it just left. Senior Gretchen Harknett kept the pressure up in the 67th with a strong effort that floated high, before another close sequence occurred a minute following.

In the 68th, CeCe Kizer got 1-v-1 with the goalkeeper, got a shot off from point-blank range that was saved, then was able to get another foot on it, this one hitting the post, again just keeping the Rebels off the board.

Forbus got another look with 13 minutes to go, putting up a shot that missed just right and glazed the post, but it was the call that came five minutes following that sealed the game.

At the 82-minute mark, Tennessee got a runner down the far side and served a ball into the box getting a player 1-v-1, when Ole Miss keeper Marnie Merritt came out to go for the ball and tackle and was issued a red card. That controversial call resulted in a penalty kick for the Vols which they converted, increasing the lead to 2-0 in what would be the final tally.

Harknett, who finishes her career as the Rebels’ all-time leader in starts (85) and second in career games played (86), posted a team-high five shots on the day, while Forbus, also finishing tied for second in career games played with Harknett, put up three ending her very decorated career.

The Rebel senior class finishes their careers one of the most successful in program history, totaling two NCAA Tournament appearances, including last year’s Sweet 16 run.