CARY, N.C. - An early Blue Devil goal proved to be the difference as No. 24 Ole Miss soccer's magical Sweet 16 run ended in a 1-0 battle with No. 8 Duke in the 2020 NCAA women's soccer championship tournament Wednesday afternoon at WakeMed Park.
The Rebels outshot Duke 8-7 but were unable to slip anything past keeper Ruthie Jones.
Both teams played an extremely physical match but Ole Miss (10-6-2) happened to fall on the wrong side of the score.
"I thought our team fought, and fought and fought," said Coach Matt Mott. "It was one of those days where we couldn't get the bounce, couldn't get a good strike on goal and just couldn't get that equalizer. I'm so, so proud of this team and the way they battled. Tough conditions, it was really hot, and we've been going for a long time and been here for a long time. It was a great college soccer game. One that I'm certainly very proud to be a part of, and I'm proud of the way our Rebels competed."
Less than three minutes into the match, Duke converted a corner kick to score the game's only goal. Caitlin Cosme finished the corner, heading it into the upper 90.
Mo O'Connor had a quality look in the 24th minute to tie things up, but Jones was able to back up and corral her shot.
Looking for the equalizer, Ole Miss worked a few dangerous crosses into the box, but the Blue Devil defense cleared each attempt to take a one-goal lead into the half.
Ole Miss was able to keep Duke in check in the final 45 minutes, holding the Blue Devils to only two shots.
The Rebels created another potential scoring opportunity in the 67th minute on a Haleigh Stackpole corner kick, but the offsides flag was raised to thwart a burgeoning Ole Miss attack.
Down the stretch, O'Connor and Ramsey Davis each were able to fire off shots in an attempt to tie things up, but there was nothing doing for the Rebels as they battled until the final whistle.
The Rebels5' Sweet 16 finish is tied for the best finish in program history.
"[This season] has been one of the most memorable one's I've ever had," said Mott. "This unbelievable run we've made in the tournament really helped continue to put Ole Miss on the map from a soccer standpoint. I couldn't be more proud of this team. They came back to school June 2 and it's May 5 and we're still playing.
"It's been a heck of a run for these guys, and I'm so proud of them and how hard they've worked, what they put in and the way they stayed together to be this team that Rebel Nation really got behind. The future is really bright."