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Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review (Aug. 25-31)

Ole Miss Athletics Week in Review
Aug. 25-31, 2014

Football
- No. 18 Ole Miss opened the 2014 season with a 35-13 win over Boise State in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at Atlanta's Georgia Dome.
- The Rebels led 7-6 entering the fourth quarter when senior quarterback Bo Wallace and the offense exploded for 28 fourth-quarter points to cruise to victory.
- Wallace passed for 387 yards and four touchdowns, and receivers Laquon Treadwell and Cody Core both set career highs and went over 100 receiving yards.
- The Rebel defense picked off the Broncos four times, including Cody Prewitt's 10th career interception that ranks him top 10 in school history.
- Logging his first start, junior wide receiver Cody Core finished with four catches for a career-high 110 yards and his first two career touchdowns.

Volleyball
- Ole Miss kicked off the Steven McRoberts era this past weekend by winning the Buffalo Classic. The Rebels defeated Canisius, Siena, Lehigh and Buffalo all by 3-0 scores to capture their first tournament title away from home since 2007.
- The Rebels started the year 4-0 for the first time since 2007 and swept their first four matches for the first time since 1984.
- Melanie Crow, Aubrey Edie and Nakyeta Clair were named to the All-Tournament Team, while Clair earned Most Valuable Player honors.  
- The Rebels averaged 15.0 kills per set, led by Crow, who posted 46 kills for an average of 3.83 kills per set.  Crow came up with several big kills in Sunday's win over Buffalo to stave off the Bulls and also added 13 blocks, 7 service aces and hit .320 for the weekend.
- Clair finished the tournament with 42 kills and 13 blocks and hit .381, while Edie tallied 149 assists (12.42 per set).

Cross Country
Men's Team
- The Ole Miss men's cross country team opened the 2014 season on a high note, tying for first at the Brooks Memphis Twilight Classic. Three runners finished in the top 10 for the Rebels.
- In his first event as a Rebel, freshman Mark Robertson recorded the best time for Ole Miss in the four-mile run. His time of 20:07.74 was good for second overall in the event.
- The first-place finish was against a field consisting of four regionally ranked teams.
Women's Team
- The Rebel women's cross country team finished third in the Twilight Classic, ahead of two other regionally ranked teams.
- Sophomore Mary Alex England's fifth-place finish in the 5K led the way for the Rebels.
- Of the 10 Rebels who competed in the opening event, five were freshmen and four were sophomores.

Soccer
- Sophomore Addie Forbus turned in her first hat trick and added two assists to help the Rebels defeat Louisiana-Lafayette 5-1 on Sunday.
- Junior Jessica Hiskey added a pair of goals against Louisiana-Lafayette as the Rebels improved to 2-1-1 on the season.
- The Rebels split on the weekend, dropping a road contest at Louisville 1-0 on Friday before picking up the win over the Ragin' Cajuns to close out play in week two of competition.

Observations from the Best Seat in the House - Aug. 31

This is a new concept we've created for the Ole Miss Sports Blog that we're calling 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. Some of these will be stat nuggets, some of these will be links to great work from other people, and some will simply be casual observations about a game/subject/whatever. Sometimes I'll be posting these weekly features, sometimes it will be Austin Miller, and sometimes we'll team up for it. We'll keep it professional, of course, but we're also going to have some fun with this because it is a blog after all. Let's get started:

1.) Great season-opening win by the Ole Miss football team. Was it always pretty? No. Does it matter? Not really. At the end of the day, the Rebels are 1-0, which is a fact half the teams in the country cannot say.

2.) He plays a position that doesn't always (OK, ever) get a whole lot of attention, but can we please give a shout out to Will Gleeson? The Punter from Down Under was a beast Thursday night against Boise State. Not only did he punt for distance, he also punted with precision, landing three of his four punts inside the Broncos' 20-yard line, including a 70-yarder that stopped at the 7.

3.) Here's a nice story on Gleeson from Hugh Kellenberger of The Clarion-Ledger from back on Aug. 10. Check it out.

4.) We had read and heard about the Ole Miss defense throughout fall camp, but when they're going against the Ole Miss offense there (obviously) aren't any big hits so as to prevent injury. Well, my guess is those defensive players had a little energy built up. There were some absolutely massive hits Thursday from a number of folks. Check out this Vine showing three of the bigger hits: https://vine.co/v/MlV2vObKAxE.

5.) In camp, defensive line coach Chris Kiffin said he expected really big things from sophomore defensive tackle Robert Nkemdiche. The former consensus No. 1 overall recruit didn't disappoint. While his stats weren't necessarily eye-opening, if you watched the game you saw how much attention he drew from the Broncos, which thus freed up his teammates for three sacks and 10 tackles for loss. I really liked this quote from Nkemdiche after the game: "The Rebel defense really made a statement and are really getting an identity. You better get used to it. It's the new normal for us."

6.) Senquez Golson had a big-time game for the Rebels against Boise State. The senior from Pascagoula, Mississippi, made a game-high tying eight solo tackles, including one tackle for a loss and he also had a key interception in the end zone.

7.) Speaking of that interception in the end zone, the key to the game may have been the Rebels' defense bending but never breaking in the first half. Boise State had two drives stall inside the Ole Miss 5-yard line. In total, the Broncos ran seven plays inside the Ole Miss 5 and came away with just three points. If Boise State scores two touchdowns there the whole game could have been different.

8.) Stop me if you've heard this before: Cody Prewitt picked off a pass. The first team All-American picked up right where he left off a year ago when he led the Southeastern Conference with six interceptions.

9.) While there wound up being a lot of good that came from Thursday's game, there were also a couple head scratchers. Fourteen penalties is a whale of a number, first game or not, and that's surely something Coach Freeze and the rest of the Rebel coaching staff will be focusing on prior to their next game at Vanderbilt. Of the 14 penalties, half came as a result of false start calls ... in the first half.

10.) Ole Miss will also look to kick start its running game its next time out. Ole Miss finished the day with 34 rushes for just 71 yards and a touchdown. I, for one, believe the Ole Miss running back corps is a position of strength and the remainder of the year will be a different story.

11.) Here's a fun fact: With Thursday's win, Ole Miss Football is now 8-0 all-time in the month of August.

12.) Did you see Josh McCoy's photo gallery of the football game? Do yourself a favor and click here to check it out: http://www.olemisssports.com/view.gal?id=164946. He's the best photographer in the biz, folks. You can also follow him on Twitter at @OleMissPix.

13.) What a great weekend for the Ole Miss volleyball team as it kicked off the Steven McRoberts era in grand fashion by going 4-0 in Buffalo, New York, at the Buffalo Classic.

14.) The Rebels didn't drop a set throughout the entirety of the tournament. The Rebels' 4-0 start is their best start since 2007, and it's their first time opening a season without dropping a set in their first four matches since 1984. Wow. The volleyball team will play in three matches next week (Sept. 5-6) in nearby Memphis, Tennessee, before hosting two tournaments in back-to-back weekends Sept. 11-12 and Sept. 18-20.

15.) The Ole Miss soccer team also continued its strong start to the year with a 1-1 weekend that saw it bounce back from a 1-0 loss at Louisville on Friday with a 5-1 win over Louisiana-Lafayette at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium on Sunday. Love seeing a team respond from its first loss with five goals and a victory.

16.) The soccer team is now 2-1-1 after facing four tough opponents to open the season. Come on out to support your Rebels this upcoming week for two home games against Minnesota and Memphis on Sept. 5 and Sept. 7, respectively. It's a fun environment and the team really feeds off a strong crowd.

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.

Ole Miss and the SEC Network Launch

The SEC Network will debut at 5 p.m. CT Thursday with its flagship news and information show, SEC Now, live from all 14 SEC campuses.

The debut of SEC Now on Thursday will be a three-hour special hosted by Dari Nowkhah and Maria Taylor, and they will be joined by Brent Musburger, Paul Finebaum, Greg McElroy and Booger McFarland. There will be live whip-around reporting from each of the school's 14 campuses, with reporter Kaylee Hartung stationed at Ole Miss.

The three-hour special will be followed by the premiere of "SEC Storied: The Stars of Aligned" at 8 p.m. CT and will feature Shepard Smith representing Ole Miss.

The first two weeks of the network will also feature customized programming to feature 14 schools in 14 days. The "Best of Ole Miss" block of programming will air on Monday, Aug. 18 starting at 11 p.m. CT and will include "SEC Storied: Book of Manning," the 2008 game vs. Florida, the 2002 game vs. Florida, the 2003 game vs. Auburn and the 2013 game vs. LSU. The first two weeks will also include the soccer team's season opener vs. Georgia on Friday, Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. CT. 

During the fall season, Ole Miss has 10 games scheduled to be featured live on the SEC Network, with the possibility of that number increasing with additional football games being picked up by the channel during the season. Ole Miss also has 30 total soccer and volleyball matches that will be offered exclusively as SEC Network+ events on WatchESPN and SECNetwork.com.

More from Ole Miss Sports:

Ole Miss to be Featured Heavily on SEC Network

Ole Miss-SEC Network Info

More from ESPN:

SEC Network Debuts with School-Specific Programming for First Two Weeks on Air

SEC Network and SEC Network + Now Available on WatchESPN

More from SEC Network:

The SEC Network Channel Finder

Ole Miss All-Access Preview

The Season: Ole Miss Soccer Day One

Ole Miss Programming on SEC Network

The SEC Network will debut on Thursday, August 14 with a three-hour SEC Now that will visit every SEC school and the 21 sports within the SEC. The first two weeks of the network will also feature customized programming to feature 14 schools in 14 days.

Among the highlights from the first two weeks are team previews, "best of" games from the last 5-10 years and all-access specials. The "Best of Ole Miss" block of programming will air on Monday, Aug. 18 starting at 11 p.m. CT and will include "SEC Storied: Book of Manning," the 2008 game vs. Florida, the 2002 game vs. Florida, the 2003 game vs. Auburn and the 2013 game vs. LSU. The first two weeks will also include the soccer team's season opener vs. Georgia on Friday, Aug. 22 at 6 p.m. CT.

For the full ESPN MediaZone press release, go here.

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

Souza Talks World Cup Brazil

Former Ole Miss soccer player Rafaelle Souza, who now plays for the Houston Dash of the National Women's Soccer League, talks about the 2014 World Cup in her native Brazil and teaches two of her teammates some Brazilian samba dance moves.

Souza has appeared in 10 games, making the start in four games and logging 351 minutes through 13 games played. The World Cup continues Saturday with the start of knockout play, as Brazil plays Chile in the Round of 16 at 11 a.m. CT on Saturday. The United States plays Belgium in the Round of 16 at 3 p.m. CT on Tuesday.

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."

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Ole Miss Soccer held a "Dad and Daughter Day" this past Sunday, and it was another special day for superfan Sam Provenza and his daughter Mille Smith. 


Provenza, a World War II veteran who will turn 91 in January, and his daughter have formed a special bond with junior goalkeeper Kelly McCormick from both attending mass at the St. John's Catholic Church.


"I met them through church," McCormick said. "I didn't have anyone to go with at 8:30 in the morning, and so they introduced themselves and adopted me as if I was their child. He has really supported me in my sports and academics. He is an amazing man and he has an amazing story in what he has been through in his life, so I am really happy to be a part of their family."


"I'm living with my daughter, and Kelly is good friends with her from church, so I got interested in her, and I started coming to games this year," Provenza said. "I talk to her about the game and everything. She's a fine young lady and has devoted most of her time to charity and trying to get into veterinary school."

 

Provenza has attended every Ole Miss home soccer match this season as he recovers from cancer surgery. It was during that time after surgery that his bond with McCormick grew stronger.


"He just had cancer surgery on Feb. 1 for the left parotid gland," Smith said. "We know Kelly from church, and she would always sit with us, and she came on some really dark days for my dad to cheer him on in his cancer recovery, and he is here to cheer her on for soccer and the rest of the girls."


Provenza and Smith arrived early before kickoff, and then stayed after the match, a 1-1 draw with No. 7 South Carolina. Following her post-match responsibilities, McCormick returned to the bleachers at the Ole Miss Soccer Stadium, and visited with them, as she does after every home match.


"That means a lot to me," Provenza said. "She feels like she's one of my daughters. I have three daughters, so she's my fourth daughter."


"It touches me dearly that he would take his time to come watch a game," McCormick said. "He could be doing other things. He has a special place in my heart, so I really enjoy that he's here with me."



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.
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