Kentucky womens soccer came up short of an SEC victory against No.15 Ole Miss, losing 2-1 at home on Friday.
The Cats battled in the SEC opener but could not overcome the strength of the Rebels’ defense.
Ole Miss jumped ahead early, scoring a quick goal within the first two minutes of the starting whistle courtesy of goalkeeper Ashley Orkus.
Despite the immediate deficit, the Cats were not shaken so easily and turned their defense up a notch to match Ole Miss’ intensity.
The next several minutes of play saw multiple changes of possession with neither team seeming to be able to find an opening.
Much like Orkus before her, redshirt freshman goalkeeper Tallulah Miller helped suppress the opponent’s offensive success with a couple of crucial saves that kept Kentucky in the game.
It wasn’t until the 32’ when Kentucky finally pushed through the Rebels’ defense to show up on the scoreboard when Hailey Farrington-Bentil took a shot to the bottom center of the net.
Ferrington-Bentil was assisted by Hannah Richardson and Úlfa Ulfarsdóttir on the play, securing Kentucky its first goal against an SEC opponent since Oct. 24, 2021.
Unfortunately for Kentucky, the score would not be tied up for long as Ole Miss once again took the lead off of a penalty kick made in the 42’.
Coming out of the half the Cats made several efforts to re-tie the game, holding possession for longer than the Rebels, but were unable to find an opening for a goal.
Even with the intensity seeming to pick up in the 61’ with strong offensive attempts from both Ole Miss and Kentucky, neither team could break through with an opportunity for a goal, though it was not due to a lack of trying.
The Rebels were awarded another penalty kick in the 68’ but hit the crossbar, unable to extend the lead.
On the other end of the pitch Ulfarsdóttir attempted a shot for Kentucky that soared just over the left side of the net.
In a change of pace, the waning minutes of the match played out with little action on the field with both teams appearing tired, ending with a 2-1 Ole Miss victory.
Despite the loss, Richardson, a team captain, refused to let the loss diminish the team’s high hopes for the season.
“I thought we stuck with them the entire game and we were actually in control most of the first half,” she said. “We just gave up stupid mistakes that cost us, so I think this loss is definitely something we can learn from and not let it define us going on to play Vandy next week.”
Head coach Troy Fabiano also appeared satisfied with the play by his team, remaining positive after the loss.
“As a group we say we want to make sure when we walk off the field that we’re not losing games because we are not giving the effort,” Fabiano said. “I thought the effort was there and I thought we played pretty well.”
Hoping to rebound from the loss, Kentucky travels to Nashville, Tennessee to take on Vanderbilt on Sep. 22 at 8 p.m. EST.