ORANGE BEACH, Ala. - Throughout this season, Ole Miss senior captain Gabby Little has proven her ability to rise in clutch moments. The Rebel forward did so again on Sunday, scoring with just over a minute to go to lift Ole Miss to an opening round victory in the SEC Tournament over bitter rival Mississippi State at the Orange Beach Sportsplex.
It is the first win at the SEC Tournament for Ole Miss (10-6-3) since 2013, snapping a five-match losing streak for the Rebels in Orange Beach, Alabama. It also extends the Rebels' unbeaten streak over the Bulldogs (8-8-3) to seven matches.
While the game started off pretty sloppily for both sides, the Rebels were still able to take advantage less than 15 minutes in as a pass from Sydney Michalak came off the head of Mississippi State's Miranda Carrasco and found its way into the back of the net for an own goal.
Ole Miss also had the best chance of the opening half to add on to its lead as a gut-busting run out of the back by Michalak eventually released Mo O'Connor down the right wing. O'Connor had a couple of bites at the cherry from inside the box but the Bulldog defense did well to recover and block both attempts.
After hitting the halftime break up a goal, the Rebels nearly added a second not long after the second half kickoff. Channing Foster whipped in a bending cross to the far post in the 50th and Gabby Little hit it well on the volley. Unfortunately, Little's shot clattered off the crossbar, keeping the Rebel lead at 1-0.
The Rebels continued to stay on the front foot for most of the early going in the second half but in the 70th minute Ole Miss needed some heroics from center back Madison Smith to maintain its lead. The sophomore came up clutch on a shot by MSU towards the vacated Rebel goal, clearing the ball off the line.
Following the close call, Foster nearly got the second for Ole Miss in the 78th minute, driving into the box on the counter before being denied by Gabby English near the goal mouth.
After weathering a couple of Bulldog attacks, disaster struck in the 88th minute as a foul was called on Ole Miss in the 18-yard box, allowing Mississippi State to equalize from the penalty spot.
However, the Rebs didn't let the moment crush their will. Ole Miss jumped right back on the attack and less than a minute after the Bulldog goal, Gabby Little scored off of Saydie Holland's feed to send the crowd and the Rebel bench into a state of pandemonium.
Ole Miss closed out the remaining time on the clock, securing one of the most dramatic wins in the 26-year history of Rebel soccer.
Ole Miss moves on to the quarterfinal round of the SEC Tournament, earning a rematch with SEC champion Arkansas on Tuesday at 5 p.m. CT.