Rafa Watch: Ole Miss star, Brazil advance to knockout round of Women’s World Cup
Former Ole Miss soccer great Rafaelle “Rafa” Souza and Brazil have advanced to the knockout round in the 2015 Women’s World Cup. Raquel Fernandes scored in the 83rd minute as Brazil eliminated Costa Rica with a 1-0 win on Wednesday in Moncton, New Brunswick. (Official Match Report)
Resting up for the knockout round
Brazil had already clinched its group and knew its opponent in the June 21st knockout round would be Australia.
The match against Costa Rica presented Brazil with an opportunity to rest some of its players, including Marta, while getting some of the younger players like Tamires and Fernandes vital in-game playing time.
Costa Rica, on the other hand, was playing for a win in order to advance to the knockout stage, so the intensity was definitely there. Except for a 15-minute stretch in the 2nd half, they competed until the end.
Rafa’s best match
Rafa, again, had another solid match for Brazil, perhaps her best so far. In addition to her defensive responsibilities, she was involved in the offense a bit. She took a free kick early in the 1st half that went errant, but it was good to see her taking it.
On the defensive end, Rafa committed a foul in the middle of the 2nd half against a Costa Rican midfielder while going for a header. Basically, Rafa wanted the ball and bumped the midfielder with her shoulder. Rafa stood tall and the Rican player fell hard. At first glance it was a foul, and some wondered if it might have been a bit of an acting job by the Costa Rican player. However, the replay did reflect the impact.
While a foul does show up on the stat sheet for the game, it is important to note Rafa’s was neither a dirty nor malicious foul—just a hard one. It was something akin to a “send a message foul.”
But you can be sure for the rest of the match Costa Rica thought twice about jumping for headers while the Ole Miss legend was around. Rebels football coach Hugh Freeze would have been proud.