Back again after a weekend of excitement on the Communist Pitch. No, no one read my post about a month ago, and no, I don't think anyone will read my post this week, but it's a matter of principle that I continue to write about your Ole Miss Women's Red Army. Hoping to improve from last month's quick post - I was running late getting ready for steak dinner at the frat, frat, frat - I promise a better-written and more organized post after the jump.
Alas, though this post is indeed more organized and better-written, it is less-informed. Of the five home games that have occurred between the Auburn game (my last post) and the close of the regular season, I only attended two of them.
Oct. 2, South Carolina: We lost 1-0 to the seventh-ranked Gamecocks in a hard fought game and evenly-matched game. Unfortunate, but not devastating. Noteworthy: we were without Dylan Jordan due to a concussion she suffered against Auburn.
Oct. 4, Florida: We win 3-2 in OT over the seventh-ranked - sound familiar? In soccer, they have too many polls and none of them hold any weight over the other, so you always pick the one with the higher rankings - Gators in a torrential downpour, which caught me totally off guard because though I was in town and ready to race to the field after worshippin' Jesus, I thought "certainly they won't play" (see: Alabama below). We did, we won, and that's a huge win too! Just two years ago, I remember watching Florida come in and beat us in every aspect of the game; they were bigger, stronger, faster, and more skilled. On that night, Steve Holeman, our coach, just looked at me and said, "we can't compete with that." So even though Florida is the one seed going into the SEC tournament, their only loss in SEC play was to the Ole Miss Rebels.
Five-Game Away Trip: The Rebels came back with wins against Georgia(1-0), Arkansas (1-0 OT), and Kentucky (4-1 mauling), and draws against Tennessee (1-1) and LSU (0-0). That draw against UT is not great, but the draw at Western Division Champion LSU was apparently a strong defensive effort on both sides.
Oct. 25, Vanderbilt: I actually attended this game along with Ivory Tower (ya, I know I said I wouldn't tell anyone, I lied) and it was rather disappointing. A game where we dominated the entirety of the game, more than doubling the amount of shots that the Commodores took, we lost 1-0. Vanderbilt continues to be the thorn in Ole Miss' side in soccer. The one comment related to how our team performed: we were the victims of communism, yearning and hoping for the benefit in letting every single player on the team contribute rather than using the inner-capitalist greed to just shoot the damn ball (those of you who are Arsenal fans will understand this).
Oct. 30, Mississippi State: Hate, Hate, Hate State!! On what was supposed to be Senior Night for the Rebels - and the first ever soccer match held at Vaught-Hemingway -our Rebels emerged victorious over the laughing stock of the SEC (one win in conference play) 2-0. Noteworthy are the first goal by senior striker, Hannah Weatherly, and the assist of the second by senior, Danielle Johnson. It was also raining throughout this game, but I didn't go because my fiancee and I were dining with Brian Walker's Elbow and his wife. The jokes were flowing and reminders of Ghost's "That's RACIST!" kid surfaced more than once.
Nov. 1, Alabama: This was a game that was supposed to be our SEC opener, but due to a light drizzle (especially when compared with the monsoons during the Florida and MSU games) it became our last game of the season. We won 1-0 in a frustrating match from the start, which brought back memories of the Vanderbilt game: Alabama was going to score on the one opportunity they got and leave us wishing we had been a little more selfish. As women are built, all of our width on offense came from the rear. Time and time again we refrained from sending that threatening cross in the final third of the field, preferring instead to play short ball down the sideline until we got to the corner flag before crossing the ball. Contrary to what was reported by Ole Miss, the Alabama goalkeeper was notspectacular, but we made her look that way with our weak shots and poorly delivered crosses. In the second half, I think our coaches talked about tactics as evidenced by the two through balls from the defense in the first ten minutes, creating some of our best opportunities on the day. Meredith Snow made a couple of great runs from the back that sparked the offense and Brittany King missed a gimme off a Taylor Cunningham corner. The goal came in the 84th minute (that's with six minutes remaining for you non-Communists) thanks to quick distribution from our goalkeeper, Alley Ronaldi, a quick transition run and pass from Kendyl Mygatt and a beautiful cut and shot with the left by Dylan Jordan, her fourth goal in four games. A quick note on the coaches of Alabama and the explanation for why they suck: their coaches (the two assistants, I think) spent the entire game trying to orchestrate the game for their players as if the players were on a TV screen and the coaches had the Xbox controller - a disgusting display of totalitarianism if you ask me, just more entertaining and less devastating.
Brief Recap: With a new coaching staff under our one and only head coach, Steve Holeman and a young squad (three seniors and a junior), the Rebels have had a great season. There is no doubt that we are not only a very good (and young) soccer team but also that we have the potential to be a dominant team (this year and in the future). Our defense is often solid and very often calm and poised, anchored by Meredith Snow (slowly becoming one of my favorites) and Brittany King (Ms. Calm and Deceptively Quick). Our offense can be potent at times, and I am pretty sure we lead the SEC in total offense, but that is where our experience is, leading the points for the team are Weatherly (senior), Taylor Cunningham (junior) and Danielle Johnson (senior). Fear not though, the next two on the list are Kelsey Breathitt and Dylan Jordan (both sophomores and both contributing at important points in the season). Our midfield is the flip-flopper, when they are on, we are an excellent team, if they are not working together with the rest of the team, I get nervous but we're still good. Cunningham is my favorite player, and I think that when she is asserting herself and delivering balls to the forwards, we are at our best. For the most part, she does not disappear from games as Weatherly does from time to time, and she uses her body very well to maintain control. Cunningham will be the sole senior and the major leader on the team next year - I just wish she would shoot more.
There will be more from our multiple-SEC-and-national-player-of-the-week-honored, highest-ever-ranked Ole Miss Red Army in the coming week...
Three Seed in the SEC Tournament: We are not done yet. Ranked #21 by Soccer America (the other polls are not out yet), the Rebels look forward to the SEC tournament (held each year at Orange Beach) and their almost-assured (but not guaranteed) bid to the NCAA tournament, which would be the first since 2005. We are matched up against Auburn, winners of their last three, in the 2:30 game with the winner playing LSU (probable winner over Vanderbilt) on Friday at 5pm. Watch for Dylan Johnson to sustain her goal-scoring form and the midfield assert themselves physically and selfishly in the middle.