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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."

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."






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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