Oct. 9, 2009

*Courtesy of Ole Miss Athletics

ATHENS, Ga. - Danielle Johnson headed in a corner kick in the 60th minute and the Rebel defense pitched a shutout to propel No. 24 Ole Miss (9-3, 3-1 SEC) to a 1-0 victory over No. 16 Georgia (10-2-1, 3-2) on Friday night at the UGA Soccer Stadium.

With back-to-back wins over No. 7 Florida and the 16th-ranked Bulldogs, Steve Holeman's squad has defeated ranked opponents in consecutive games for the first time in program history. The win also spoiled Georgia's Southeastern Conference home opener in front of 1,790 fans in attendance and a Fox Sports South TV audience.

"What a great way to follow up last weekend and our last victory," Holeman said. "Georgia is a very talented team, and we felt that we would be a good matchup with them. It came down to a set piece. We talk about it all the time. What a fantastic serve by Mal on the corner and a great finish by Dee. That was the difference."

After a scoreless first 59 minutes, Ole Miss was awarded a corner kick and Mallory Coleman struck a line drive into the box that Johnson flicked in for the 1-0 lead at the 59:25 mark, giving Johnson her fourth goal of the year.

"Mal served a perfect ball inside and there was nobody on me, so I just headed it near post," said Johnson, one of three senior team captains along with Coleman and Hannah Weatherly. "This is awesome. It's so exciting for Hannah, Mal and me. This is what we came here to do our senior season. I'm glad we could get a win tonight and hopefully we can get one on Sunday."

The win gave the Rebels three more points in the league standings for nine total points, among the highest current totals in the league despite having played one less contest due to the Alabama game that was postponed until Nov. 1.

After an early scoring chance by Georgia in the first three minutes of the game, Ole Miss maintained the upper hand in possession with crisp passing throughout the entire first half and out-shot the Bulldogs 6-3. Four Rebel shots were on frame, and they produced a pair of very dangerous chances late in the period. Twenty minutes in, Taylor Cunningham played a ball through the middle to Weatherly, who took a breakaway run, but her cross to Kendyl Mygatt came up short. In the 34th minute, Dylan Jordan was open in the middle of the box and struck a nice shot to her right that was saved by Georgia keeper Michelle Betos.

Ten minutes into the second period, Ole Miss drew a Georgia foul about 30 yards out from the goal and Johnson fired a free kick near post that took a diving stop by Betos to keep the Rebels off the scoreboard. But Johnson came back just four minutes later to secure what would be the game-winning score.

The Rebel defense pitched its seventh shutout of the year and the back line of Meredith Snow, Brittany King, Coleman and Alix Hildal kept the SEC's active leading goal scorer Carrie Patterson and the Bulldogs' normally high-scoring attack off the board.

For the match, Ole Miss held an 11-9 advantage in shots and made the best use of its two corner kicks to Georgia's four. Alley Ronaldi earned the win in goal with her fifth shutout of the season, making two saves in 90 minutes. Betos took the loss with one goal allowed, making eight saves in 90 minutes.

"I thought we had a great first half," Holeman said. "Georgia made a nice adjustment in the second half and took us out of our rhythm. After we scored the goal, we weathered a storm. For the last 15-20 minutes of the game, Georgia had a lot of good opportunities, but we fought hard and dug deep and found a way to win."

The Rebel victory knotted the teams' all-time series at 7-7-1 and was the first Ole Miss win over the Bulldogs since the 2006 season.

The Rebels travel to perennial power Tennessee, which defeated Mississippi State 3-0 on Friday, for a 3 p.m. ET Sunday match televised by ESPNU. Holeman was pleased with the way the team responded to its big victory over Florida and a national ranking, but wants the squad to continue to remain focused.

"Our team knew to keep (the Florida win) in perspective," he said. "It was one win that got us into the top 25, but it was just one game. We knew we had to bring our best. Just like we got this win tonight, we have to get ready for Sunday. Every game's another battle."