We’ve been imploring you to pay attention to Ole Miss soccer, but if you haven’t been, it’s time to hop on the bandwagon. Their insane offensive output has, predictably, cooled off since beginning SEC play, but these ladies have kept on rolling. After wins this weekend over Georgia and Arkansas, their 9-1-1 start is tied for the best in program history and has them ranked 18th in the country. Their lone blemish is a hard-fought 1-0 loss at No. 10 Florida.
Attacking midfielders Channing Foster and CeCe Kizer are tied for second in the country with 10 goals each. Kizer is also tied for fourth in assists with seven and is second in the country with 27 total points. After a sophomore slump last year, Kizer’s re-emergence has been absolutely critical to the team’s offensive success this season. Foster’s ability as a freshman to play at a high level, as well as her chemistry with Kizer, has also been important. Combined, they’ve scored or assisted on 65 percent of the Rebels’ 43 goals this season.
Equally impressive this season has been the team’s defense. Matt Mott’s teams have never been known for their defensive prowess, but this year’s squad is different. They’ve allowed just three goals all season. They’ve posted eight shutouts, including one against a high-scoring Arkansas team last Sunday, and goalkeeper Marnie Merritt is fifth in the country with a .299 goals against average. Their 0.27 goals allowed per game is tops in the SEC. This is all the more impressive when you consider that the back line is starting two freshmen and a transfer. They can also score golazos, too - check out Grace Johnson’s stunner at the 1:30 mark.
The Rebels will face another huge test on Friday as they welcome No. 3 South Carolina to Oxford. The Gamecocks are the only team that is still perfect in the SEC (3-0), and their defense is nearly as stingy as the Rebels’. Gamecocks forward Savannah McCaskill, a two-time All-American and the captain of the U.S. U-20s, will be the biggest test yet for the young Rebel back line.
This year’s team is probably better than the squad that reached the Sweet 16 in 2015, so don’t be surprised if the Rebels pull off the upset on Friday. There are still tough games left after this one, of course, including road games against No. 25 Tennessee and No. 23 Texas A&M, but beating a team of the Gamecocks’ caliber would do wonders for this team’s confidence. If the Rebels are able to get the victory, they should enter the national title conversation.