Having beaten No. 25 Clemson 2-1 in the first round of the tournament, the Rebels face the Stanford Cardinal. It’s going to be...tough.
The Cardinal has stayed No. 1 for the entire season, carrying a 18-0-2 record so far this year. They haven’t lost in 42 matches. Stanford is No. 2 in scoring nationally and fifth in goals against. Again...it’s going to be tough.
I wish there was a lot of silver lining or something I could talk about that he Rebels can exploit, but here just isn’t. It will take an otherworldly performance by CeCe Kizer, Channing Foster, Haleigh Stackpole, and freshman keeper Morgan McAslan to keep this game interesting.
It’s certainly something I don’t expect. I don’t think the Rebels can hang tough with the Cardinal, especially in terms of depth and talent past the top few players.
But... what if that happens?
What if CeCe Kizer does something enormous like scoring a hat trick against Stanford? She’s one of the best players ever to come through the program, and no matter the competition she’s a handful. These are the types of game that
Look, Stanford is loaded. They boast the Pac-12’s forward, midfielder, and defender of the year. They scored 7 goals on No. 15 Colorado. They’re magnificent.
BUT....they also scored just one goal in four games this season. While the Rebels aren’t other worldly on defense, if they can somehow keep Stanford from piling on the points, they have the firepower to make it interesting.
If the Rebels are defeated, is this the end of relevance in soccer?
In short, no. Sure, Ole Miss doesn’t have a player on roster or inbound who will replace CeCe Kizer. She’s an exceptional scorer who can outrun nearly any defender. But there’s more to the team than that.
Kizer and Ella Frischknecht are the only two senior starters (now that keeper Marnie Merrit is out for the season). There’s a lot coming back. The recruiting class coming in isn’t ranked highly or anything, but Mott’s classes generally aren’t, and he finds players who can make a difference that were somewhat overlooked.
This team has a chance to continue making noise after Kizer is gone, but it let’s just go ahead and win this one to keep the season going. Okay?