Ole Miss soccer’s showing last week’s SEC tournament might not have gone the way it wanted—the they went one-and-done after a 4-0 loss to Arkansas—but the Rebels nevertheless made the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years.
The tourney gets underway on Saturday in Clemson, where the Rebels will take on the No. 25 Tigers in the first round. If they manage to win that game, it’s on to the second-round game against Stanford, the tournament’s No. 1 overall seed. Obviously, that would be a very difficult matchup, but even getting there won’t be easy.
Here’s what you need to know about the tournament.
The tournament is just like March Madness.
There are 64 teams in four separate brackets. Each game is single elimination. The stakes are pretty high.
The only really frustrating aspect of the tournament is that they only actually seed the top eight teams. Everything else is a hodgepodge. This results in unfortunate matchups like the Rebels or Tigers likely facing No. 1 Stanford in the second round. That matchup doesn’t make a lot of sense, though it’s not that unreasonable—both the Rebels and Tigers have RPIs in the 30-40 range.
Clemson is pretty good.
The Tigers boast two of the top-10 scorers in the ACC, a solid league. Sophomore Mariana Speckmaier is second in the conference in goals scored at ten. There should be a barrage of shots against Ole Miss freshman keeper Morgan McAslan.
The real key to Clemson’s success, however, is junior keeper Sandy MacIver. She gave up just 13 goals on the year in 16 games played. Kizer and sophomore Channing Foster have to play some of their best soccer to put the Rebels in a position to win.
If the Rebels put together a magical run, it will be because of Cece Kizer, Channing Foster, and Haleigh Stackpole
Those three Rebels were named to various All-SEC teams this year. Stackpole, the freshman midfielder, plays pivotal roles on both offense and defense. Foster is the second scoring option and a very strong attacker. Kizer, the team’s star, is on a different level than any other player on the field. Last season she became the first Ole Miss player ever named a United Soccer Coaches All-American. Seriously, if you haven’t seen her play before, do it.
It would be a real shame if Kizer only made it past the first round once at Ole Miss. A win Saturday afternoon would put another nice bullet into an already stellar career resume.