In one of the more exciting games of the year, the Ole Miss soccer team knocked off the Texas A&M Aggies in a comeback 2-1 victory on Senior Night. The thrilling win was a great send off for the six Rebels seniors in their last game in Oxford.
The Aggies got the scoring going in minute 53 with a goal from Emily Bates. All of the momentum was on the Aggies’ side for most of the first half and up until the goal was scored in the second half.
After that, the Rebels went on the attack and notched the equalizer in minute 76 off of the leg of midfielder Bella Fiorenzo. Seven minutes later, sophomore midfielder CeCe Kizer displayed professional-level footwork to get open and find the back of the net. Her goal was the deciding point in the Rebels’ victory. Marnie Merritt was solid in the net blocking six of the seven shots she faced. Coach Matt Mott praised his goalkeeper for her five saves in the first half and key stops in the second half.
“She is just a class goalkeeper. She is really playing well at the right time for us and I am really happy with her and the whole back line,” Mott said regarding Merritt’s showing tonight.
When the Rebels surrendered the goal to Texas A&M, the team seemed to rally behind the senior leadership from Addie Forbus and Gretchen Harknett who made plays that will not show up in the statistics, but provided other players with the opportunity to be successful. Mott credits his team’s ability to maintain the same game plan when they fell behind.
“We just kept playing. We knew we would have looks in the second half. They scored but there was still 33 minutes left. The free kick by Bella [Fiorenzo] was great, and CeCe [Kizer] did what she does… score goals,” Mott said.
Even though the underclassmen were the ones whose performance showed up in the box score, tonight’s win was about the six seniors.
The group of goalie Madi Killeen, Forbus, forward and defenseman Sara Coleman, midfielder and forward Mackenze Parma, Harknett, and defenseman Melissa Capoccia comprises one of the most successful senior classes in Ole Miss soccer history.
The group has won 47 games and are not done. The class has made two NCAA Tournament appearances, including the school’s first ever Sweet 16 appearance in 2015. Forbes said she loved the way her last game in Oxford ended.
“You only get one Senior Night. I could not have drawn it up better than this,” Forbus said. “These are the games that make everything worth it. These are the games that you live to play.”
Hartnett said she has cherished the times she has been able to wear the Ole Miss jersey, especially here in Oxford. She said she would not have wanted her last game at home to end any other way.
“It was an unbelievable ending,” Harknett said. “I cannot explain how it feels, how special it is to play on this field. It is even better to win my last home game, and I cannot picture it with anyone other than my teammates.”
There were many great moments for these seniors during their careers at Ole Miss, Hartnett said she had two favorite highlights of her career.
“The win to get into the Sweet 16 was a big one,” Harknett said. “I also really enjoyed beating Auburn last year 2-0. There is a lot to choose from, but those are my top two.”
Mott has nothing but respect and admiration for his six seniors.
“They are perfect. There have been no discipline problems,” Mott said. “They are great students. They have worked so hard on and off the field, and they deserve this. They needed this reward and I am really happy for them.”
In regards to the rest of the season, Mott said he feels confident that his team can get into the SEC tournament with three games left to play.
“I think one more point will do it, but we are thinking about winning three more games,” Mott said. “Right now my only focus is Georgia.”
The Rebels go on the road for the last three games of SEC play against Georgia, Vanderbilt and the second-ranked South Carolina Gamecocks.