The No. 23 Ole Miss Rebels (14-3-1, 8-1-1 SEC) and No. 20 Vanderbilt Commodores (14-3-1, 7-2-1 SEC) played 110 minutes of scoreless soccer on Sunday afternoon to battle to a tie at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium, which puts Tennessee in the driver's seat in the race for the regular season Southeastern Conference title.
Ole Miss entered the day in a tie for first place in the SEC, while Vanderbilt was in third place. The Lady Volunteers of Tennessee beat Alabama 2-1 in overtime to take the lead in the overall SEC standings.
The Rebels have already clinched the outright SEC Western Division crown.
"Today was a day where I think we were fortunate to come away with a tie," said Ole Miss head coach Steve Holeman. "Vanderbilt is a great team, and they took it to us in the second half and overtime. They had a lot of opportunities. I have to credit our defense and our goalkeepers for playing well, for playing hard and for keeping a great team like Vanderbilt out of the net."
The scoreless match gave Vanderbilt its SEC-record 13th shutout of the season, while Ole Miss recorded its 12th shutout effort of the year in a battle of the league's best defenses.
Vanderbilt won the statistical battle in every category except the scoreboard on the chilly and windy afternoon. The Commodores out-shot the Rebels 19-9, including 6-1 in the two overtime periods. Vanderbilt racked up 13 corner kicks in the match, the most by a Rebel opponent this season, while Ole Miss managed just one.
Both teams were called for 16 fouls in the physically played match.
The two squads traded possession back and forth for most of the first half, with relatively equal results. Vanderbilt had a one shot lead (4-3) at halftime.
The Commodores came out of the gates firing in the second period, though, as they amassed nine shots to five Ole Miss shots in the period. Vanderbilt forwards Kelci Hegg and Sarah Dennis had several opportunities just escape them.
Ole Miss had perhaps its best scoring chance when freshman midfielder Jennifer Hance knocked a header that just dribbled to the right of the post in the 103rd minute.
Sophomore goalkeeper Megan Vickery followed up a solid first half by Ann Shelton with some stellar second-half play, registering three saves and stopping several of the `Dores' attempts to cross into the middle of the box. Vickery also manned the net in both overtime periods.
Vanderbilt's keeper Tyler Griffin had four saves to her credit in 110 minutes of action.
"I think we just need to be more productive in the attack," Holeman added. "We were very good defensively, but offensively we weren't able to create a lot of good opportunities. Give credit to Vanderbilt. Their forwards were better than ours at creating chances today."
The Rebels will have a chance to win their final regular season game of the year and perhaps move into a tie for first or win the SEC regular season title when they face in-state rival Mississippi State this Friday at 7 p.m. for Senior Day at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium.
SEC West soccer champ Rebs tie Vandy
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