Soccer

Ole Miss midfielder Haleigh Stackpole took a Rebels free kick and placed a perfectly curved cross to the skull of forward Molly Martin. Martin tapped it up and over Susi Espinoza, whose glove was just out of reach, and the ball softly rolled into the net. 

That goal placed unranked Ole Miss up 3-2 on the newly ranked No. 19 Gators. Three whistles sounded from the referee 14 minutes later and the decision was final: Ole Miss defeated Florida for the first time since 2009. UF’s six-match win streak and undefeated SEC start to 2019 was slain in Oxford, Mississippi, Thursday night. 

To commence the action, midfielder Cassidy Lindley had two Ole Miss defenders looming between her and any decent crossing opportunity in the 25th minute of the match. She tried a left-footed aerial ball anyway, but it was deflected back to Lindley’s better foot. 

Then, she had a clean look and placed it across the 18-yard box to the feet of forward Madison Alexander just outside the 6-yard box to the right of the net. Alexander ripped the ball back left and it flew past Ole Miss goalie Ashley Orkus into the final destination; It was 1-0 Gators and the Rebels seemed overwhelmed. 

As a result, the entire first half was controlled by UF in terms of possession and chances, yet not on the scoreboard. An opening half that felt it would conclude a one-goal advantage for Florida was neutralized in the 39th minute by the Ole Miss. 

Rebels midfielder Sydney Michalak was just past midfield toward the right sideline and curled an airborne pass into the Gators’ 18-yard box to forward Channing Foster. Foster executed the slightest of taps to squeak past UF’s backline and created a one-on-one opportunity against Gators’ goalie Espinoza. 

She then drove her right foot through the ball just outside the 6-yard box from left to right into the goal, scoreline 1-1. The final six minutes of the half presented a drastically different Ole Miss, in terms of swagger and effort. 

While no other chances landed, the remainder of the half’s opportunities belonged to the squad wearing red with its blue, instead of orange. The referee’s whistle at the 45-minute mark seemingly bailed out UF heading to the locker room. 

The first minute of the second half proved that it did. Less than 60 seconds into the final period, Ole Miss forward Lonnie Mulligan dribbled between two UF defenders like a point guard in basketball and hooked a ball from right to left past Espinoza. 

However, the 2-1 advantage did not last as long as the 1-1 draw did. One minute after Mulligan’s score, Lindley entered the stat sheet once again, this time in the scoring column instead of the assist column, via a deflection. The inaugural strike smacked a Rebel and flew up into the air.

The ball came back down, found Lindley’s cleats and she tried again. This one went unscathed  across the box into the right side of the goal to stalemate the match once more. 

Then, the 76th minute brought the score off of the free kick from Martin and undid the tie for the final time. Coach Becky Burleigh’s side that flew to Oxford boasting a flawless conference record now has its first SEC blemish of 2019.

Follow Graham Marsh on Twitter @GrahamMarshUF. Contact him at [email protected].