The Ole Miss footballers started off their season with a bang this weekend, routing Alabama State on Friday and Northwestern State on Sunday. The Rebels won each game by the score of 8-0, dominating both offensively and defensively. Combined, ASU and NSU managed just three shots on goal.
Junior attacking midfielder CeCe Kizer, the team’s most important player, seems to have shaken off her nagging foot injury from last season. She scored a hat trick in the first half Friday night, then added a brace and an assist on Sunday. Her five goals on the weekend matched her total from all of last season. Kizer’s stellar play earned her SEC Offensive Player of the Week and NCAA Player of the Week honors.
Meanwhile, sophomore forward and Oxford native Alley Houghton had a pretty good weekend herself, scoring a goal and dishing out five assists. Freshman midfielder Channing Foster had a hat trick against Northwestern State, and five players scored their first goal as a Rebel.
It’s tough to take anything away from these games, as the two teams didn’t really belong on the same field. But the main thing is that we found out who the starters on the back line are. They have yet to be tested, though. The Rebels dominated both games so thoroughly that it’s impossible to make any real judgments about the quality of the defense. Out of the four starters on the back line, just one, senior Liza Harbin, was a Rebel last season. Ella Johnson, a transfer from BYU, her sister Grace, a freshman, and another freshman, Sophie Dineen, constitute three-fourths of the starting defense. For the Rebels to have a shot at winning big games this season, the defense will have to improve over last season. Hopefully those young guns have gelled quickly, because they’re going to face a huge test on Friday when Ole Miss hosts Michigan.
The Wolverines, an NCAA tournament team last season, check in at no. 23 in the rankings after wins over Washington and Idaho State last weekend. They return seven starters from last season, including two All-Big Ten performers. They also added the no. 6 recruiting class, so this team has tons of talent. This is the first — and likely only — big test of Ole Miss’ non-conference schedule. Michigan beat the Rebels 2-0 last season. A win would do wonders for an Ole Miss program that struggled last season and is looking for a confidence builder.
Then on Sunday, the Rebels will head to Lafayette, La. for their first road game of the season against ULL. The Ragin’ Cajuns finished 8-9-2 last season and are expected to finish near the bottom of the Sun Belt Conference. A 2-0 record this weekend would help put the Rebels back into the national conversation.