For the second straight week, the No. 21 Ole Miss scored team defeated a top-10 team. The Rebels defeated Auburn 2-0 in front Friday night in front of a season-high crowd of 1,510 fans. <>
It was the first time in the history of the program the Rebels earned back-to-back wins over two teams ranked in the top 10.
With the fifth-largest crowd behind them, Ole Miss improved to 9-1-1 at home this season. The shutout win was also the seventh clean sheet for the Rebels this season, including the fifth individual shutout for redshirt freshman goalkeeper Marnie Merritt.
Auburn (12-3-0, 5-3-0 SEC) managed to outshoot the Rebels 21-7 on the night, but Merritt was a force to be reckoned with as she protected the Ole Miss net. Merritt tallied a total of six saves on the night and produced a clean sheet against a top-10 team for the second time in as many games. Senior Bethany Bunker and junior Addie Forbus were able to produce offensively for the Rebels. Bunker notched her first goal on the season, while Forbus recorded her 10th.
“That was a great victory. Auburn was on us in the first half and it was hard for us to get out and create anything,” Ole Miss coach Matthew Mott said. “That was a great goal by Bethany Bunker. It really got us in a great spot and helped us get some energy to get going.”
Although the first half seemed to favor Auburn, the Rebels remained relentless. Merritt held strong in the goal, along with the solid Ole Miss back line, to keep the Tigers scoreless on their 14 shots. In the 38th minute, Ole Miss found a way to find the back of the net. Reigning SEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week Maddie Friedmann passed a ball down the line to Bunker. Near the corner, the senior sent the ball just past the post, and it deflected off of the Auburn goalkeeper’s hands to go into the net. Ole Miss and Auburn retreated to the locker room for halftime with the Rebels up 1-0.
“We couldn’t get past midfield in the first half,” Mott said. “Auburn was really on us, but we held strong and held our positions. Bunker was due for a goal and we’ll take it any way we can get it.”
Shortly after stepping back onto the pitch for the second half, the Rebels struck again. In the 49th minute, Jennifer Miller sent the ball into the corner to Gretchen Harknett, whose cross connected with the head of Forbus. The Ole Miss attacker redirected the shot on target and past the keeper, giving the Rebels an insurance goal and a 2-0 cushion.
“With a great serve from Harknett and the pressure of the game in that moment, Forbus’ goal might be one of the best goals we have scored all year,” Mott said.
The Tigers tried to fight back in the 76th minute. Auburn forward Ellie Leak’s strike was stopped on a diving save by Merritt, and with that, the Rebels locked a final score of 2-0.
Ole Miss will return to action next weekend as the Rebels hit the road to face Tennessee on Friday night at 6 p.m. Ole Miss will then take to the pitch at Texas A&M at 6 p.m. on Sunday.