Friday, October 08, 2004
In dramatic fashion Friday night, the University of Alabama soccer team defeated the Ole Miss Rebels 1-0 in overtime.
All week Alabama head coach Don Staley talked to his team about converting on its opportunities. That opportunity came with 7:20 to play in overtime as sophomore Emily Pitek scored her first career goal on a penalty kick when she beat Ole Miss goal keeper Ann Shelton in the top left corner to win the game and end a three-game losing streak to the Rebels.
More importantly, the win ends a two-game skid in the Southeastern Conference for the Tide and puts them in better position for the SEC tournament.
“This is a big win for us,” said Staley. “Anytime you can win an SEC game it is big.”
The play that led to the penalty kick was started when Pitek sent the ball to Libby Probst deep into the Ole Miss zone. Probst was able to take control of the ball and tried to turn the corner on the right side of the box but was taken down from the behind by an Ole Miss defender. The official called a foul and Alabama was awarded a penalty kick.
“I stayed after practice all week to work on my game,” said Pitek. “Coach said all we needed to do is give ourselves a chance to win and (Probst) gave us that chance with the way she turned the corner to draw the foul.”
“I’m proud of (Pitek) for stepping up and taking that shot for us,” said Staley. “I can’t say enough about (Probst) either. I know she didn’t score that goal but she was the catalyst on that play.”
With the win, perhaps Alabama exorcised a few daemons. Of the Tide’s seven losses this year, five have come on goals scored in the game’s closing minutes including two losses last weekend. This time it was Alabama that scored the late goal claim the win.
“We felt that sooner or later we were due for one of these,” said Staley. “My hat’s off to Ole Miss head coach Steve Holeman. He’s a class act and has a classy program.
In a series that is about as even as they come, Friday night’s game was a perfect example of the history between the two clubs. Alabama and Ole Miss were even in nearly every category on the night with the exception of shots, where the Rebels held a 22 to 11 advantage. However the Tide had just as many good looks at the net as did its opponents. Each team finished the game with six shots-on-goal. But the only one that mattered was the one that found the back of the net.
“The rivalry is very special,” said Staley. “We’ve played each other for 10 years now and it has been very even and tonight the game played out that way.”
Alabama now leads the all-time series with Ole Miss 6-5.
Alabama will be back in action Sunday afternoon at home when the Mississippi State Bulldogs visit the Alabama Soccer Stadium at 1 p.m.