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Upset Bid Falls Short Against No. 10 A&M

Seeking its first win over a top-10 team since 2009, Ole Miss took a 1-0 lead but fell short to No. 10 Texas A&M, 2-1, Sunday afternoon.

"I'm really happy with the team's performance," head coach Matt Mott said. "I'm certainly disappointed we didn't get a result today but certainly very happy with how hard the team played and battled."

Junior defender Maddie Friedmann gave the Rebels a 1-0 lead with a header goal in the 62nd minute off a corner kick. Freshman Courtney Carroll sent the corner into the box and and junior midfielder Jessica Hiskey got her head to it before Friedmann found the back of the net.

Ole Miss held a 1-0 advantage before Texas A&M found the equalizing goal in the 72nd minute and then the go-ahead goal in the 79th minute. 

Those were the only two blemishes on an otherwise excellence performance from senior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick, who made eight saves against an Aggie attack that finished with 23 shots and 10 shots on goal.

"The second one, I was disappointed with myself, because it was a really close angle," McCormick said. "I don't think she should have scored that one. I kind of hold myself accountable for that."

"She's an excellent goalkeeper and has been doing really well all year," Mott said. "I hate it for her because she played really well. All of the guys in the back played great. They all battled like crazy."

Ole Miss had multiple chances to tie the match in the closing seconds after sophomore forward Sara Coleman drew a foul just outside the box. The Rebels fired two shots off the post but couldn't find the back of the net, as Texas A&M escaped with the win.

"It was a great shot by Addie (Forbus) on the free kick," Mott said. "It looked like it was going in. It hit the post and dropped straight down. We had people there and just couldn't get it in the back of the goal. That was definitely a crazy sequence and tough to watch when it doesn't go in.

"It was kind of like a pinball game," Friedmann said. "You're head is whipping around trying to figure out where the ball is going. I could have sworn that it was going in. I felt it hit off me. They had four or five girls on the line and managed to get it out. It was unfortunate, but sooner or later, we're going to catch the right bounce."

Rebels Rebound with Hard-Fought Draw

Playing in their fourth overtime game of the season, the Ole Miss soccer team played Arkansas to a 1-1 double-overtime draw on Thursday night. 

The teams combined for 30 shots, including 13 on goal, but the game was characterized more by the physical play with a combined 22 fouls and two yellow cards for Arkansas in the second half. 

"When you get into the SEC games, the intensity and physical are up," head coach Matt Mott said. "Both teams were really fighting for the three points. When you have days like that, you have to be physically ready, and our guys did a good job of getting ready and up for the game."

"It was a battle," junior Jessica Hiskey said. "We knew coming out they were going to be very physical and very good in the air, so we knew he had to challenge for everything and keep digging out the second balls."

Arkansas went ahead 1-0 with a goal in the 15th minute and held the one-goal advantage for much of the game before sophomore Gretchen Harknett found the equalizer in the 69th minute on a bending ball from the top of the box to beat the keeper.

It was a big goal for the Rebels, not only battling back to draw even in the match, but also coming off a 4-0 loss at Central Florida this past Sunday.

"We needed it for our confidence," said Mott of the goal. "We needed it for our mentality. Gretchen Harknett is a good player for us, and it's big for her to get that goal and help us settle things down. We created plenty of chances. We should have gotten one in the first half and maybe it would have been a different second half."

With the draw, Ole Miss moves to 6-2-3 overall, 1-0-2 in Southeastern Conference play, ahead of a Sunday showdown with No. 10 Texas A&M, the second-highest ranked team in the league behind No. 7 Florida. The Aggies (7-1-1) are led by the top scoring scoring duo in the SEC in seniors Shea Groom and Kelley Monogue who have combined for 15 goals this season.

"They're really good," Mott said. "They're worthy of their rankings, but it's an SEC game, and we're in every SEC game that we play. It will be a big challenge for us on Sunday, but one that the girls are certainly looking forward to. A&M is very good and they are explosive offensively. Hopefully we can create some things against them."

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This is the fourth installment of Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations from the previous week in Ole Miss Sports. This week was a combined effort with Metz Camfield. Let's get into it:

1. The Ole Miss football team was on a bye week, but the volleyball and soccer teams went a combined 5-1 on the weekend, as both of those teams wrapped up nonconference play.

2. As much fun as it is covering Ole Miss home and away games, and they are, it's also fun to have a Saturday to watch games from 11 a.m. - and thanks to the late-game dramatics between Oregon and Washington State - until late into the night. That game, along with Mississippi State-LSU and Florida State-Clemson were the highlights for me, but it was an overall great day of football.

3. After moving up four spots the previous week, Ole Miss remained No. 10 in the latest Associated Press poll, one of six SEC West teams ranked in the top 17. Think about that, approximately one of every three teams in the top 17 are from the same division of the SEC. That's insane.

4. Among those six SEC West teams is Mississippi State, which entered the top 25 at No. 14 after its road win over LSU. Its inclusion marks the first time since the final poll of 1999 that both Mississippi schools are ranked in the Associated Press top 25. 

5. Oct. 4 is shaping up to be a potentially huge day in Mississippi with No. 10 Ole Miss hosting No. 3 Alabama and No. 14 Mississippi State hosting No. 6 Texas A&M. Standing in the way are Memphis (at Ole Miss) and Arkansas (vs. Texas A&M in Dallas).

6. When asked what he wanted to get out of the bye week, head coach Hugh Freeze said he wanted to build depth and work on two-minute, third-down and red-zone offense. Those are some areas to watch in the Rebels' matchup with Memphis on Saturday.

7. Speaking of Memphis, the Tigers are 2-1 to start the season for the first time since 2004. That was also the last time Memphis defeated Ole Miss. Don't forget, earlier this season, Memphis put a scare into then-No. 11 UCLA in Los Angeles before falling short 42-35.

8. Much has been said and written about Bo Wallace's start to the 2014 season. Here's a nice story on Wallace from Chase Parham of Rebel Grove/Rivals.com earlier this week. Check it out.

9. Following the program's first College World Series appearance since 1972 and a top-four national finish, Ole Miss baseball head coach Mike Bianco's contract was extended to run through the 2018 season. Well-deserved for the all-time winningest coach in Ole Miss history.

10. The new ball that will be used in college baseball this season, which features lowered seams, is definitely going to make a difference. While it doesn't seem to come off the bat any hotter, it does carry further. In talking with coaches and players after Saturday's scrimmage, there were a few balls hit Friday and Saturday that would have been fly ball outs last year. This will certainly be a topic again as we get closer to the season, but this is a good thing for college baseball.

11. Former Rebels Aaron Barrett (Washington Nationals) and Lance Lynn (St. Louis) have clinched berths in the postseason, with Barrett and the Nationals having already clinched the NL East Division. Tip of the hat to them.

12. Sticking with the theme of former Rebels in the big leagues, how about a shout out to Chris Coghlan of the Chicago Cubs and Drew Pomeranz of the Oakland A's? Coghlan went 4-4 with two home runs and four RBIs Saturday against the Los Angeles Dodgers, his second home run, a two-run shot in the eighth inning, proved to be the game-winner. Pomeranz, meanwhile, finished with a strong line against the Philadelphia Phillies in a start, going 5.0 innings, with one hit, zero runs, zero earned runs, two walks and six strikeouts.

13. Amory, Mississippi, native Addie Forbus scored in the first minute, and the Ole Miss defense made it stand up, as the Rebels defeated Mississippi State 1-0 to retain possession of the Magnolia Cup. It marked the Rebels' first win in Starkville since 2009. Congrats to Coach Matt Mott and the girls.

14. With a 4-0 weekend, the Ole Miss volleyball team remained undefeated at 14-0, matching last year's win total ahead of the start of SEC play. The Rebels open SEC play with matches at South Carolina and Florida, which will likely serve as a measuring stick for the team after being pushed to five sets just once in the nonconference.

15. The Ole Miss athletics department will be honoring the life and legacy of former Ole Miss football player Chucky Mullins this weekend. He will be inducted posthumously into the M-Club Hall of Fame and Ole Miss will rename Coliseum Drive "Chucky Mullins Drive." For more on the celebration of Chucky Mullins, click here.

16. In case you missed it, here's Episode 4 of The Season: Ole Miss Football, which includes a touching tribute to the late Stan Sandroni.

Leading 1-0 after controlling the play for much of the game, Ole Miss opened up a 3-0 lead on Middle Tennessee with a pair of goals in the final minute of the first half on the way to a 4-0 win Sunday.

After scoring the first goal of the match, sophomore Addie Forbus broke free, looking for her second goal. Her initial shot was blocked by the MTSU keeper but sophomore Georgia Russell controlled the rebound and scored inside the far post.

"Addie was 1-v-1 with the goalkeeper, and she really made it happen," Russell said. "I followed through and there was nobody out there besides me and Addie, so I took a shot, and luckily it went in."

"She smacked that ball on a dime," Forbus said. "She put it right in the far post. It was perfect. It was a great goal."

For Russell, it was a long, winding road to her first career goal after suffering an injury in the preseason two years ago and then suffering another season-ending injury last October.

"It was a struggle," Russell said. "I had to get back in shape and get my touch back on the ball. I hurt my ankle last season. It's been a struggle and I'm getting there. It looks like things are coming together. I'm 100 percent healthy, and I want to keep it that way."

Seconds later, after a scramble in the box, sophomore Sara Coleman came up with the loose ball off a deflection and passed it to junior Jennifer Miller, who scored with two seconds left on the clock for her first goal of the season.

"We tell to our team that it's a 90-minutes game, and each half is 45 minutes, so play it to end," head coach Matt Mott said. "I really like our fitness level. We are a fit team, and when you're fit like that, you can handle the end of halves. And I also like our rotation, both up front and in the midfield, getting a lot of guys some minutes, which are getting them ready to play and also helps with the fitness level late in halves."

In the second half, sophomore Gretchen Harknett added to the scoring and joined Russell and Miller in scoring her first goal of the season, as she converted a penalty kick after Coleman was taken down in the box.

"It was really big for Gretchen Harknett," Mott said. "She's played really well all nonconference, and for her to get on the board was big for her because she's had a couple of really good looks. If she starts scoring, we're going to be really dangerous and she's right there."

"A lot of people thought without the big-star names that we weren't able to put any goals in, but we have shown that we still have a great offense and attack, and we're really dangerous when we get the ball in dangerous areas," Forbus said.

With Sunday's win, Ole Miss improves to 5-1-2 on the season, and despite the six goals on the weekend, Mott looks for the team to improves its finishing ahead of a two-match road swing at Mississippi State on Friday and Central Florida in its final nonconference match on Sunday.

"We have to spend some time in practice on finishing for sure," Mott said. "We're doing a good job of creating chance and now we have to find the back of net. It's obviously really hard to do. On Friday night down at Austin Peay, we had a number of chances too that we just weren't clean enough up in front of goal, so it has to be a focus for us this week certainly, and we'll do that. And hopefully clean it up for Friday."

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This is the second installment of Observations from the Best Seat in the House. The idea of this weekly feature will be to bring you all some of our observations from the previous week in Ole Miss sports. Let's get into it:

1. What a weekend. The football, volleyball and soccer teams went a combined 5-0-1 on the weekend, headlined by the 15th-ranked football team's 41-3 win over Vanderbilt at Nashville's LP Field, home of the Tennessee Titans.

2. Let's start there. Head coach Hugh Freeze may have downplayed the play of his team in his postgame press conference, but Saturday's win over Vanderbilt may have been the Rebels' most complete performance in the Hugh Freeze era.

3. Since the first half against Boise State, Bo Wallace has completed 35-of-44 passes for 559 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Between the Boise State second half and Vanderbilt first half, he threw for 488 yards, which would have broken Archie Manning's single-game school record.

"He didn't make any bad decisions, or anything that was even close," said co-offensive coordinator Dan Werner of Wallace's performance against Vanderbilt.

4. A lot of it is the small sample size, but here are some more fun stats: Bo Wallace is seventh nationally averaging 10.7 yards per attempt and has accounted for a nation-best 15 passing plays of 20 yards of more. That's a big credit to Wallace getting the ball in the hands of his talented group of receivers.

"We had a good game plan, and guys were running wide open the whole night," said Wallace after the Vanderbilt game. "Guys made some plays after the catch, and we put up some yards."

5. Another note: The 41-3 win over Vanderbilt was the Rebels' largest margin of victory in an SEC game since defeating Mississippi State 45-0 in 2008.

6. On a very related note, the margin of victory (38) was also former football player Chucky Mullins' jersey number, while the total number of points (44) was also former Vanderbilt football player Brad Gaines' jersey number. The SEC Storied documentary "It's Time," centered on the the inspirational friendship between Mullins and Gaines, debuted on Thursday on the SEC Network.

7. Robert Nkemdiche called the defense's performance in the season opener against Boise State the new normal. The defense showed up again, as they allowed only a fourth-quarter field goal and 167 yards of total offense against Vanderbilt. Through two games, the Rebels have allowed just 4.19 yards per play and just eight plays of 20 yards of more.

"We stopped the run primarily and we got some pressure on the quarterback and we didn't give up explosive plays and I think that's key for us this year," head coach Hugh Freeze said after the win over Vanderbilt. "We want to make people drive to earn points and I think we did that well."

8. Speaking of Nkemdiche, the former consensus No. 1 overall recruit recorded his first sack of the season, the third of his career, against Vanderbilt. It likely won't be his last.

9. It may get lost in the team's overall performance, but Cliff Coleman may have turned in the play of the game, making his first interception and returning it 39 yards for his first career touchdown to keep the momentum in the Rebels' favor and stretch their lead to 27-0 early in the third quarter.

10. Defensive coordinator Dave Wommack earlier said this freshman class was a hit across the board. Through two games, Kendarius Webster has been the one who has stood out. He had a well-timed pass breakup late in the game against Boise State and had two massive tackles to keep the shutout intact against Vanderbilt.

11. The reigning national punter of the week, Will Gleeson did not see the field, as Ole Miss did not punt in a game for the first time since 2002. Andrew Fletcher connected on each of his first two career field-goal attempts, one from 31 yards and another 25 yards, while Gary Wunderlich made his collegiate debut kicking off four times with three touchbacks and one kick out of bounds.

12. College GameDay producer Lee Fitting has said the Ole Miss looks like a strong a candidate for a visit from College GameDay on Oct. 4 if Ole Miss and Alabama are undefeated. It would be their first trip to the Grove. Home games against Louisiana-Lafayette and Memphis stand in the way for Ole Miss, while home games against Southern Miss and Florida stand in the way for Alabama.

13. With that said, don't sleep on Memphis. Under second-year head coach Justin Fuente, Memphis put a scare into No. 11 UCLA before falling short 42-35. The Tigers rolled up 469 yards of total offense, led by second-year quarterback Paxton Lynch who threw for 305 yards and accounted for two touchdowns.

14. The Ole Miss volleyball team is the last undefeated team in the SEC. With a 3-0 weekend to win the Memphis Invitational, the Rebels improved to 7-0 on the season for the first time since 2007, when they started a school-best 9-0.

15. In their first match of the weekend at Memphis, the Rebels saved a match point down 14-13 in the fifth and decisive set before scoring the next two points to clinch the match. Those are the kinds of wins where you can see the mentality change that first-year head coach Steven McRoberts has talked about since arriving in Oxford.

16. The Ole Miss soccer team had their own share of dramatics this weekend. Down 2-0, Olivia Harrison netted a pair of goals within four minutes of each other in the final 12 minutes of regulation to force extra time against Minnesota. She capped off her hat trick with the golden goal in the second overtime period.

17. Even more impressive, it was the second straight game where an Ole Miss player scored a hat trick, with Addie Forbus scoring three goals in their previous match against Louisiana-Lafayette.

18. The NFL is back, and so is the large contingent of former Rebels among its ranks. Mike Wallace caught a game-tying touchdown, as the Miami Dolphins scored 23 unanswered to rally to defeat the New England Patriots. On the defensive side of the ball, Greg Hardy, who was third in the NFL in sacks last year, recorded his first sack of the season, while Patrick Willis intercepted a pass and led his team in tackles.

19. Looking ahead, there's another big weekend on campus upcoming with volleyball's first three home matches of the season as part of the Magnolia Invitational on Thursday and Friday, football's home opener against Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, and a home soccer match against Middle Tennessee State on Sunday.

McCormick, Defense Shine in Win

After playing 110 minutes in a 1-1 draw with Georgia on Friday night, Ole Miss responded with a gutsy 1-0 win over Iowa State on Sunday afternoon. The defense, led by senior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick was the story of the game. 

Ole Miss limited Iowa State to just five shots, while McCormick posted her 18th career shutout and scored her first career goal on a penalty kick in the 24th minute.

"I didn't know I was going to be the first one called, but coach knows I have been practicing a lot on my PK's," McCormick said. "I was kind of praying to myself that he wasn't going to call my name but he did, so I went out there and gave it my best shot."

In club soccer, she played half in the goal and half in the field as an outside midfielder or a forward. She joked that she didn't score a lot but instead helped set up her teammates, so it was a nice moment for the school's all-time wins leader as a goalkeeper.

"We have been doing them in practice, and she looks great at it," head coach Matt Mott said. "She's a senior and been taking them for four years. We had her in our (penalty kick) group at the end of the year last year. She looks great in practice and stepped up. She's a winner."

The back line of juniors Maddie Friedmann, Jessica Hiskey, sophomore Melissa Capocaccia and freshman Courtney Carroll kept things relatively clean in front of McCormick, whose biggest test was a cross into the box late in the second half, which she punched away.

"I'm so proud of the back line," McCormick said. "They have done a tremendous job. They have made my job a lot easier. I honestly didn't have to do much because they were working very hard preventing through balls and crosses from happening."

Mott has already moved sophomore Gretchen Harknett, who started all 24 matches at right back last season, into a more attacking role in the midfield, and it's his hope to also move Hiskey into a similar role in the midfield as the season progresses.

"They were really composed," said Mott of the back line. "The four of them are really starting to gel together. We're getting Sam Sanders some good minutes now too and that will only help us going forward. We get her back in there and get Jessica (Hiskey) moved back into the midfield. I'm very happy with those guys. They played 200 minutes and didn't give up a goal in running play. That's a good weekend."

Three things from Ole Miss soccer head coach Matt Mott, previewing the season opener against Georgia on Friday night.

Rebels Look to Take Next Step

Ole Miss made history this past season, not only setting a school record for wins, but also hosting an NCAA Tournament game for the first time and winning its second NCAA Tournament game in five trips to the annual event.

With that success, the program has enjoyed an enhanced profile on campus and nationally, and they look to build on that success and get back into the top 25 and the top of the Southeastern Conference standings.

"Recruiting has been huge for us," Mott said. "Our name is out there even more than it was before. We have had great players contact us who are interested. The girls, too, they want more. They weren't satisfied with last year. They realize it was a good step in our program, but we have more to do."

Spike in Interest

The 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil ranked as the most-viewed and highest-rated World Cup, including the most-viewed soccer game in the United States for the opening-round game between the United States and Portugal.

The Ole Miss coaches and players also sense that growing passion for soccer, which might translate to larger crowds in the fall as they enter the 2014 season. 

And with the newly launched SEC Network, the program will enjoy unprecedented exposure and coverage with three games on the SEC Network and 13 games on SEC Network +, its digital counterpart.

"Every time there's a World Cup our attendance spikes," Mott said. "We have such a great community here that comes out and supports us. I feel good about our crowds for sure. So many people watched the World Cup, so I hope they enjoyed the games and it will translate here."

Rivalry Renewed 

Not only will Ole Miss open the season with the first live regular-season event broadcast by the SEC Network, it's the first time in league history that two SEC teams play each other in a season opener.

It's been a competitive rivalry between the two programs with Georgia winning two matches, Ole Miss winning one and one draw since Mott became head coach at Ole Miss in 2010, including a 3-1 come-from-behind win for the Rebels this past season in Athens, Georgia.

"It's definitely different, but it's exciting," Mott said. "The intensity of a conference game is even ratcheted up much more. To have that start is pretty exciting. For the girls, they're prepared and excited for the match.

"At the end of day, when we line up and the ball is kicked, it's a 90-minute soccer game," Mott said. "We have done it a million times. They have to understand there will be a big crowd and the magnitude of the game, but let's settle down and play Ole Miss soccer."


Ole Miss Soccer 2014 from Ole Miss Rebels on Vimeo.

Coming off the program's fifth-ever NCAA Tournament appearance and a school-record 15 wins this past season, the Ole Miss soccer team returned to the pitch for the first practice of the preseason on Wednesday.

The Rebels open the 2014 season with the first-ever live event broadcast on the SEC Network when they host Georgia on Friday, Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. CT.

"It's good to be back," head coach Matt Mott said. "It's nice to be out here. Our team is really fit. They did a great job on the fitness test. It's the fittest team I have been a part of in my 22 years. They are extremely fit. Our strength coach, Randy Dorvin, has done a great job with them all summer. It's a typical first day. We probably could have been sharper, but the energy and intensity was high.

"Our team did really well," senior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick said. "We had high intensity. Our fitness was really good. We were performing like it's the middle of the season and we're ready to play a good opponent."

Ole Miss made history this past season, not only setting a school record for wins, but also hosting an NCAA Tournament game for the first time and winning its second NCAA Tournament game in five trips to the annual event, but the team wants more entering the 2014 season.

"It goes to the character of these guys," Mott said. "They're tight already as a team. They pushed each other all summer and they wanted to come into fall camp fit. All spring and into fall camp, we have said that we're not going to be a one-hit wonder and disappear again. Our goal is to get back into the top 25 and into the top half of the SEC."

Despite losing two of the program's top four all-time goal-scorers, Rafaelle Souza (1st, 44 goals) and Mandy McCalla (4th, 37 goals), Mott called this year's team his deepest yet, with 17 returning players from last year's squad and five newcomers.

"I feel confident about all 22 (players)," Mott said. "They have come here in really good shape and ready to go. I like all 22 of them. They will all compete, and it will make them better every single day."

"Each year, the coaches have recruited better and better," McCormick said. "My freshman year, we weren't the most talented team, but this year, we have depth in our team and we have players who can come off the bench and play right off the bat."

It starts with McCormick, the lone senior on this year's team who has started all three years for the Rebels and is already the all-time wins leader in goal (34). She posted a 16-6-2 record with 10 shutout wins as a junior.

"She has the right mentality," said Mott of McCormick. "She's a winner. She's absolutely a winner. She has the school record already for wins. Technically, she's really, really clean, which is really important for a goalkeeper. She has done a great job with coach Rob Thompson every single year and she has made big strides. She understands what it takes. She's been in those pressure situations."

Among the five talented newcomers is freshman goalkeeper Marnie Merritt, a high school All-America selection from Huntersville, North Carolina, where she also helped Hough High School to a No. 1 national ranking by ESPN.

"Marnie has come in and she's going to be really good for us," Mott said. "She has a great pedigree. She's learning it right now certainly. Madi Killeen, too. We have three really good goalkeepers, which is an anomaly in women's soccer. I'm comfortable with all three of them. It's a battle right now. Certainly Kelly is the leader because she's been our starter, but she has a battle on her hands with the other two coming in behind her."

On the field, Ole Miss returns all six players (Melissa Capocaccia, Maddie Friedmann, Gretchen Harknett, Jessica Hiskey, Georgia Russell and Samantha Sanders) who drew starts along the back line, with Harknett and Hiskey moving to the midfield. 

The Rebels also return forwards Olivia Harrison, Addie Forbus and Bethany Bunker, who combined for 17 of the team's goals last season.

"If you look at Bethany Bunker, Addie Forbus and Olivia Harrison, all those guys had six or seven goals, which on most teams is a good number of goals," Mott said. "We just scored so many goals last year with Rafa and Mandy, it got skewed. Those three had great seasons with tons of assists, so I feel good about our ability to score. We'll have a scoring punch."

Ole Miss And The World Cup

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The United States' run in the 2014 World Cup came to an end with a 2-1 extra-time loss to Belgium in the Round of 16. For many fans, it's also the end of the road, but for a few Ole Miss coaches, current players and former players, their teams march on to the quarterfinals, which start Friday.

The Round of 16 match between the United States and Belgium averaged 16,491,000 viewers and a 9.8 US HH rating, making it the second most viewed men's soccer match in the United States ever, behind the 18,220,000 viewers and 9.6 US HH rating for the opening round match between the United States and Portugal.

For comparison, just two 2013 college football games -- the BCS Championship game between Florida State and Auburn (14.8) and the Rose Bowl between Stanford and Michigan State (10.2) -- outdrew those two United States soccer matches.

Ole Miss soccer head coach Matt Mott has closely followed the World Cup and looks for a bump in attendance and interest, as the Rebels kick off the 2014 season with the first-ever live event broadcast on the SEC Network when they host Georgia on Friday, August 22 at 5 p.m.

"This coming fall it will have a great effect," said Mott on Head to Head Radio, Tuesday. "It will help our attendance and help attendance throughout the country. People are excited about it. We're growing in fans all the time and growing in kids who are playing. We're so close. The World Cup will end here in the next couple of weeks, and a few weeks after that we get going. World Cup years are always great for our sport."

As for those with rooting interests whose native countries in the World Cup, former soccer player Rafaelle Souza and volleyball assistant coach Ronaldo Pacheco have represented Brazil for their respective national teams. 

Souza, who now plays for the Houston Dash of the National Women's Soccer League, made her first and only appearance for Brazil in 2012. She may also figure in the mix for the 2015 Women's World Cup in Canada (June 6-July 5).

Pacheco grew up playing soccer, then briefly basketball, before the start of his volleyball playing career (1983-2001), where he played on 10 different teams, including the Brazilian National Team.

"Every single boy in Brazil wants to play soccer," Pacheco said. "I was too tall when I was 13 and I did not have enough skills to play soccer. Playing soccer in Brazil is like playing basketball here in the United States. There are too many good players. To succeed, you have to be good plus you have to be lucky. When I was younger, I played every single day. We would play in the streets or go to the park and play."

After his playing career, Pacheco served as an assistant coach for the women's national team from 2004-07 and helped Brazil to a fourth-place finish at the 2004 Olympics in Athens. It's that coaching experience he brings to the Ole Miss volleyball staff, having most recently spent the past two seasons at Tulsa as an assistant coach.

"It's really nice, before the game, to listen to your national anthem," Pacheco said. "I loved playing for the national team. I loved the pressure. It's not just go and play. You have to perform. People will say this or say that, and you have to learn to deal with all that. When I worked as an assistant coach, in 2004, it was almost like soccer because the soccer [team] wasn't doing well at that time, and volleyball had a stretch where the men's national team won three world championships in a row."

Like Souza and Pacheco, women's tennis head coach Mark Beyers grew up around soccer in his native Netherlands. His father played professional soccer, and he remembers going to AFC Ajax matches when he was younger.

"It's hard to keep up with all the clubs in Holland," Beyers said. "I try to follow them, but it's hard. With the World Cup, you get to see all the games. Even though I live in the U.S., I'm still Dutch. When you watch the national team play, that patriotism comes up. The other day, the game against Mexico, it was a mixture of English and Dutch being yelled at the TV."

A few other players and former players with ties to teams remaining in the World Cup are rising women's tennis senior Iris Verboven, also from the Netherlands, senior Marie-Pierre Bakima from France, freshman middle distance runner Julius Lembke from Germany, and former men's tennis players Marcel and Chris Thiemann from Germany, who have remained at Ole Miss while working on graduate degrees in accounting.

"In soccer, you have a lot of trash-talking and bragging rights if you do win," said Beyers, mentioning the Thiemann's with Germany. "It's a lot of fun. I'm excited that the United States is embracing it so much. The ratings are off the charts."

Related Links:

Matt Mott On Head To Head Radio (starts at 50:10 mark)

Rafaelle Souza Talks World Cup Brazil

Rebels' Run Continues To the Second Round

Ole Miss won its second ever NCAA Tournament game and set a school record for wins in a season with 16, as seven different Rebels scored in a 9-0 win over Jackson State Friday night. 

No. 22-ranked Ole Miss (16-5-2) advances to play No. 3-ranked Florida State (19-1-3) in the second round of the NCAA Tournament Thursday night in Tallahassee.

"It's a building block for us," head coach Matt Mott said. "We're trying to take steps forward and get better every year, and this has been just an unbelievable year for us, and we want to keep it going. 

"We're setting a lot of records, but I'm really proud of the way the team plays. The leadership of our senior class has been unbelievable, and they have really propelled our program forward, so I'm very proud of them as a senior class. They don't want it to end, and we don't the season to end for them."

Senior Rafaelle Souza led the scoring barrage for the Rebels with a hat trick, as she became the school's all-time leading scorer with 44 goals over her three-year career at Ole Miss. 

Fellow seniors Mandy McCalla and Erin Emerson, as well as sophomores Bethany Bunker, Olivia Harrison, Jessica Hiskey and Sydney Eddy also found the back of the net in the win.

"It's awesome," said Souza of the record. "There's no way to describe how good it feels to be at the top of a good program like Ole Miss."

"It was a complete game for us," Mott said. "Certainly, we were good going forward. We got good goals and spread it around. I was happy with the intensity and the energy level. We were very good in the back. Our possession was fantastic and the key to our success moving the ball."

The Rebels are 2-3-2 against nationally-ranked teams, including a 2-2-1 record away from Oxford and 2-1-0 in true road games, with wins over No. 20 Georgia and No. 25 LSU. 

With the win, it marks the program's second appearance in the second round of the NCAA Tournament, having lost 4-3 at Florida in double overtime during the 2003 season.

The Seminoles, one of four No. 1 seeds in the Field of 64, advanced to the second round with a 5-0 win over South Alabama Friday. They are 28-1-0 all-time at home in the NCAA Tournament. Florida State also carries a 32-game (31-0-1) home unbeaten streak -- the longest active streak in the nation -- into Thursday's match.

"When I was at Auburn, I went down there three times, and when I was at Texas, we went once, so I'm very familiar with Tallahassee in the NCAA Tournament," Mott said. "They're a good team and possess the ball really well. They're the best-coached team in the country. Coach Krikorian is as good as there is, and they have a bunch of really good players. 

"I'm happy with where our team is. We'll go down there, be excited to play and play as hard as we can possibly can and try to get a result."

Friday night marked the first ever NCAA Tournament home match in program history, and it was another home game for the team's six-player senior classes. 

The 56:05 mark in the second half was a special moment, as three of the seniors -- Souza, Emerson and McCalla -- subbed out to a great applause in what could be their last respective games at the Ole Miss Soccer Complex.

"I have always told Matt (Mott) that I want to play in the NCAAs, so it was exciting to get here and play out there at least one time," Emerson said.

Souza Golden In Rebels' Overtime Win


No. 23 Ole Miss equals last year's win total, as it improves to 13-4-2 overall and 6-3-1 in Southeastern Conference play with a 2-1 win over Alabama on Sunday, courtesy two goals by senior Rafelle Souza, including the golden goal in the first overtime period.


"I'm really happy with our team defending well and tough," head coach Matt Mott said. "We got a good goal from Rafa early and a good goal from Rafa late. Mandy McCalla was a machine. I'm certainly happy coming out with three points."


The Rebels controlled play for much of the match, outshooting Alabama 26-4, but the teams went into overtime tied at 1-1. 


Then 6:40 into the first overtime period, on the Rebels' 12th corner kick of the match, Souza headed home the service of fellow senior Erin Emerson for the game-winner.


"One, you get scared because you don't want them to counter," Mott said. "But two, you feel like if you keep putting the ball in good spots, one of them is going to find the back of the net. I'm happy with the way we're playing. We have to find that net earlier and be more quality in front of goal.


It was Souza's second goal of the game, her team-leading 16th of the season. With two goals and four points on Sunday, she moved into second-place all-time in program with 38 career goals and stands alone in second place with 96 career points.


"She's a special player," Mott said. "We're so excited to have her, and she's having a really good senior year. She's been dominant in every game we have played, so I'm really happy for her. She means so much to our team. Our team together is so together, and that's really important."


"Ole Miss is a great program," Souza said. "I'm real proud of my team and my teammates because it's not just my effort."


The Rebels wrap up the regular season at home against Mississippi State next Thursday night, and then it's the SEC Tournament in Orange Beach, Ala., the following week, where the top six teams get byes into the second round.


Ole Miss clinched a bye and at least a fifth-place finish with 19 points, three points ahead of LSU, with whom the Rebels own the tiebreaker. Ole Miss is also three points behind South Carolina for third place and two points behind Kentucky for fourth place.


"We have one more win we got to get to really lock ourselves into the NCAA Tournament," Mott said. "SEC-wise, we're in the top-six group, and that's where we want to be to get the bye in the first round. I'm certainly happy with the girls."


After 1-0 win over Vanderbilt the previous week, Ole Miss re-entered the polls at No. 24 and then finished the weekend with four points -- a 1-0 win on the road at No. 25 LSU and a 1-1 tie at home against No. 7 South Carolina.


The Rebels improved to 12-3-2 overall and 5-2-1 in Southeastern Conference play and moved into a three-way tie for fourth place with LSU and South Carolina.


"It's a fantastic weekend for us, and four huge points for the SEC (Tournamnet), and we have to keep rolling," head coach Matt Mott said. "This team believes. That's four games in a row we're unbeaten. We got a big game next Friday. I'm happy with them and the way we're playing and competing and looking forward to the last three."


Against South Carolina on Sunday, Ole Miss fell behind 1-0 after a goal in the sixth minute, but junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick kept it a one-goal game, as she made four save in the first half to get to halftime.


"Without her, we lose that game, 2-0, 3-0, in the first half," Mott said. "They just pounded us. We were able to get into halftime and adjust and come back out with better energy and effort. Kelly was huge."


"I was in the right position in the right time," McCormick said of her six saves in the match. "Coach Rob (Thompson) has really been helping me in practice and we have been simulating some scenarios that would happen in the game, and some of them happened, so I was able to be in the right spot at the right time and make those saves.



A pair of great individual efforts netted the equalizer in the 76th minutes for the Rebels, as sophomore midfielder Jennifer Miller connected with sophomore midfielder Olivia Harrison, who slid the ball past the goalkeeper for her fifth goal of the season.


Already without sophomore defender Samantha Sanders, who suffered a knee injury earlier in the season, Ole Miss also suffered injuries to redshirt freshman Georgia Russell and freshman Melissa Capocaccia, who also play on the back line for the Rebels. 


"A couple of ankle injuries," Mott said. "Georgia's is more severe than Melissa's, so we hope they're going to be OK. Georgia is probably going to be out for a while, but I think Melissa will be back, hopefully quickly."


Senior Maddie Cunningham stepped up and logged 46 minutes off the bench in their place and then nearly gave Ole Miss a 2-1 lead late in the second half, but her shot from way, way out hit off the top of the goal. 


"They're playing so hard and battling," said Mott of the back line. "I'm proud of every one of them. And Kelly is doing fantastic for us. That's keeping us in games that we would have lost in the past. It's keeping us winning and tying and keeping us going toward our goals."


"I was really disappointed we kept injured in the back, but Maddie Cunningham stepped it up and made some really good tackles and plays, so we're really happy with her performance," McCormick said.


The Rebels carry their fourth-match unbeaten streak into another split home-away weekend, on the road at SEC-leading Texas A&M on Friday, then back at home against Alabama on Sunday. 


"I think we're right there," said Mott of NCAA Tournament consideration, "Our RPI is good. We have good games left. If we can take care of business, I think we have a good chance of getting an (NCAA Tournament) bid."



Senior forward Mandy McCalla netted the game-winner, as Ole Miss improved to 11-3-1 and 4-2 in SEC play with a 1-0 win over Vanderbilt on Friday night. The defense, led by junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick, posted its seventh shutout of the season.


"It's a really good win for us," head coach Matt Mott said. "Defensively, we played really well against three great forwards on Vanderbilt. And then we created a lot on the other side. We couldn't get them to go in, but we created a lot, which was important.


"I'm proud of the way we battled and fought and kept them off the board, and then Mandy got a good goal for us. I'm happy with what we created. Some nights they go in, some nights they don't. Tonight, we hit too many posts and too many at the keeper."


Ole Miss outshot Vanderbilt 30-5 but did not find the back of net until the 58th minute when McCalla scored her 11th goal of the season off a deflection from a shot by sophomore midfielder Jennifer Miller.


"All of us tonight hit every single part of the goal except the back of the net," McCalla said. "We had a lot of opportunities to be creative and attack them, and then to score one, it was relieving."


"It was huge to settle the game down a little bit for us," Mott said. "We were pressing and pressing and pressing. A lot of times you get out of that first half and you haven't scored a goal and you had some good chances, you start to get tighter, so Mandy did a good job of finishing that off for us and getting us a lead and then we could settle down and continue to play."


Sophomore Jessica Hiskey, who started all 22 games on the backline for the Rebels last year, got the start in place of sophomore Samantha Sanders, who suffered a knee injury in last Sunday's 3-1 win over Georgia. She and her teammates helped shutout Vanderbilt for just the second time this season.


"I was a little nervous coming in, just this week being back in the starting lineup, but I was really prepared and look forward to working hard in the coming weeks," Hiskey said. "My teammates gave me confidence that I could come in and do well and kept me upbeat during the game."


"She was a left back for us last year, and then we moved her into the center tonight," Mott said. "She fought like crazy. She's one of the toughest kids on our team. Her effort in there tonight was just awesome for her first start after the injury and then play 90 minutes, I'm just really happy with her."


After a week off, the Rebels return to the pitch for a split home-and-away weekend against two of the top teams in the SEC. They travel to Baton Rouge to take on conference leader LSU on Friday, then return home for a match against No. 13 South Carolina on Sunday.


"I like where we are," Mott said. "We're doing a good job defensively and in the attack. I like the way we're playing and excited about these last five matches."

Rebels Bounce Back In 7-0 Win Over Auburn


Coming off a 4-1 loss to No. 7 Florida on Friday night, No. 24 Ole Miss scored two goals in the first five minutes and went on to win 7-0 over Auburn on Sunday afternoon. Sophomore Bethany Bunker netted a pair of goals to give her a hat trick for the weekend, and five goals for the season, including the first goal of Sunday's game.


Junior Kelly McCormick made three saves, as Ole Miss recorded its sixth shutout of the season. Offensively, along with Bunker, senior Mandy McCalla added two goals, giving her nine for the season, while sophomore Olivia Harrison, senior Emily Reid and freshman Addie Forbus rounded out the scoring for the Rebels.


"They just moved the ball so great, and really, Bethany and Rafa were great early, getting in and getting around the corner, and putting the ball in dangerous spots," head coach Matt Mott said. "It was a complete team win. We were very good and organized in the back.


"We had tons of energy. This team, they have great character, and they want to get out and play well at home. They weren't happy after Friday, so they came out with something to prove. They knocked in those couple early goals and settled themselves down. I'm certainly happy with their performance."


At 9-2-1 through 12 games, it's the third-best start in program history, its best since 2003, when Ole Miss advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament for the first and only time in program history. Next weekend, the Rebels hit the road for two road games against two team currently just outside the top 25 in Tennessee and Georgia.


"We expect tough games," Mott said of next weekend's games. "Every SEC road game is really tough. We will have to come ready to go on Friday against Tennessee."



Sophomore Bethany Bunker netted her third goal of the season, but the one goal was not enough, as No. 7 Florida held on for the 4-1 win over No. 24 Ole Miss on Friday night.


"We got to score goals, and we got to get more dangerous," head coach Matt Mott said. "And we didn't do that enough tonight. We got to get more pressure on the ball. We didn't get enough pressure on the ball, and it allowed them to pass the ball around us, and we chased the ball ball too much.


"We have to come out stronger in the beginning," Bunker said. "They came out on the front foot, and their first three shots were three goals, so we have to come out stronger in the beginning and play hard for the whole game."


It's a quick turnaround for the Rebels, as they prepare for Auburn on Sunday, with a game time set for 1 p.m. at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium. The Tigers are 4-5-1 overall, with an 0-2-0 SEC record, coming off a 2-1 loss at South Carolina.


"We will watch some film in the morning and look at this game, then we will flush it," Mott said. "We got to get past this one as quick as we can and get ready for Auburn. We got to learn from (Friday) certainly. We did some things not typical of what we have been."


Rebels Pitch Shutout In Rivalry Match


The Ole Miss soccer team completed the weekend sweep, with a 2-1 win over Kennesaw State on Friday, then a 3-0 win over Memphis on Sunday. The Rebels (6-1-1) enter Southeastern Conference play next Friday at No. 25 Arkansas.

"We came together as team," senior Mandy McCalla said of Sunday's win against Memphis. "The chemistry is there, and everyone is connecting. We have confidence from back-to-back wins this weekend, and we're going to take what we have learned in the nonconference into conference play."

"It was a great game for us," head coach Matt Mott said. "Two quality opponents. Memphis is a very good team. I'm really happy with our team to come out and score three goals and finish the shutout. To get a result like that is huge for us."

McCalla, who netted the go-ahead goal against Kennesaw State, did so again Sunday against Memphis, with her team-leading seventh goal of the season. Then, early in the second half, fellow senior Rafaelle Souza added a pair of goals in a one-minute span, her sixth and team-leading seventh goals of the season, as the Rebels extended their lead to 3-0.

"They get a chance (to score), and they have a really good idea of how to score and where to put the ball, and they both scored good goals tonight," Mott said of McCalla and Souza.



On the defensive end, junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick helped Ole Miss pitch its fourth shutout of the season, as McCormick made four saves, including one on a penalty kick when the game remained scoreless in the first half. The back line also made big plays on defense, including sophomore Maddie Friedmann, who cleared a ball of the line when the Rebels led 1-0 in the first half.

"Memphis has great, international-level forwards," Mott said. Our ability to shut them down and not let them create any goal-scoring chances was great for us. They attacked us some, but we defended them well for most of the game."

Through the first eight nonconference games, Ole Miss has a pair of road wins at UAB and St. Louis and played No. 23 Southern Cal to a 1-1 tie in the Minnesota Gold Classic. Offensively, the Rebels are averaging nearly three goals per game, with 23 goals through eight games, led by seven each from McCalla and Souza.

"We're two minutes away from being undefeated," Mott said of the first eight games. "We have played really well. Our intensity and effort have been good all year long. I'm certainly happy with it. Now, we have to get ready for conference play."






 

The Ole Miss soccer team won its season opener, 4-0, against Louisiana-Lafayette on Friday night in front of 1,592 fans, the second-highest attendance in program history, at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium. 

Freshman Addie Forbus scored in her first career collegiate game to give the Rebels a 1-0 lead. Sophomore Jennifer Miller netted a pair of goals, including a penalty kick after sophomore Olivia Harrison was fouled in the penalty area, while senior Mandy McCalla, who tied with fellow Rafaelle Souza as the top scorer in the SEC last season, added the final goal.

Friday night also marked the collegiate debut for redshirt freshman Georgia Russell, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in the preseason last season. Two other freshmen, Melissa Capocaccia and Gretchen Harknett, started in their collegiate debuts, while fellow freshmen Heather Lacy and Mackenze Parma, like Forbus, came off the bench in their debuts. 

The Rebels return to action at 7 p.m. on Sunday, when they travel to take on the UAB Blazers.

Soccer Scrimmages Under The Lights

 

 The Ole Miss soccer team scrimmaged on Friday night at FNC Park in Oxford. Head coach Matt Mott said he was "overall very, very pleased" with the scrimmage. Among the individual standouts, Mott mentioned seniors Rafaelle Souza and Mandy McCalla, as well as a trio of freshmen in Addie Forbus, Melissa Capocaccia and Gretchen Harknett. The Rebels open the 2013 season on Friday, August 23, at 7 p.m. against Louisiana-Lafayette at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium.

McCalla Named Team Captain


Senior forward Mandy McCalla, who earned All-SEC honors from the coaches and tied for the conference lead with 13 goals and 33 points last season, will wear the captain's armband for the Rebels this season.


"She's a leader for us," head coach Matt Mott said of McCalla. "She understands completely what we're trying to do, and how we're trying to do it. I trust her and believe in what she does. She brings the best out of everybody. She demands it out of herself first, then her teammates next. That's what you want in a leaders, and the girls absolutely respect her."


McCalla tied for the conference lead in goals and points with her teammate, senior Rafaelle Souza, and they are two of six seniors on the team.


"We have a good senior class that is going to carry us," he said. "We have a lot of freshmen and sophomores, but we have a strong senior class. You win with seniors, and we have six seniors."


Defense First


As the Rebels prepared for their season opener, at home, against Louisiana-Lafayette at 7 p.m. on Friday, August 23, Mott said the first emphasis will be on the back line.


"The good thing is we're starting out further along than we ever have, so we're starting a higher level," he said. "We've got to get our defensive game plan and figure out who we're going to play in the back because we have some options. I think we always want to put in the defense first. 


"We're going to score goals with Mandy and Rafa, and Bethany Bunker and Olivia Harrison all returning, and the new guys, we're putting in Addie Forbus and Mackenze Parma. We're going to score goals. We got to get sold defensively first."


A trio of sophomores -- Maddie Friedmann, Jessica Hiskey and Samantha Sanders -- started all 22 games as freshmen, and they all return to anchor the back line for the Rebels, along with junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick who started all 22 games in goal and posted eight shutout victories last season.


"That, to me is exciting going into this season that we have all of those guys back," he said. "The whole back line is back, and you have Kelly in goal, who will be a junior now. Those guys who are sophomores have a full year under their belt and they look great."


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