Following a 1-0 loss to the No. 7 ranked Florida Gators, the No. 20 Rebel soccer team bounced back to defeat a stout Georgia Bulldog squad. The victory marks Ole Miss’ first SEC win of the season.
“I think giving them two days off and giving them time to recoup and relax was huge,” head coach Matt Mott said. “In soccer, you need 60 hours to recover from a 90-minute game.”
Two days of rest allowed the players plenty of time to recover before returning to practice Monday.
“It has been really high intensity,” junior forward Cece Kizer said. “When we all came back and regrouped, we really put in the work that we needed to because we know that midway through the season a lot of teams can start slacking off and get tired legs.”
The Rebels have exercised plenty of caution as they fight to prevent general fatigue that accompanies SEC play.
“We came back (from Florida) and had hands down one of the best practices we have had,” goalkeeper Marnie Merritt said. “Everybody came out with a fire, and there was no real dropoff at all, which is really exciting.”
Once again, it was solid play from the back line that turned a standard win into a four-goal rout. Merritt made three saves en route to locking down Georgia’s at times potent offense.
“Marnie’s commitment to being the best she can be is fantastic, as good as any player there is,” Mott said. “She has made big strides from last year to this year, just worked her tail off in the spring and over the summer.”
But it was freshman Channing Foster, who continues to steal the show this year. The freshman has now scored 10 goals on the year, including one Thursday night. She now leads the team in goals scored.
“Between the two of us, we really like to communicate what we are thinking in certain situations,” Kizer said. “Teams definitely have to double-man Channing and I, and that leaves a lot of other players open and allows us to find gaps and scoring opportunities.”
Foster scored almost immediately after the game started off a cross from the far corner of the box. Her goal sent a message to the Bulldogs: The Rebels were there to win.
“It just lets your team relax a little bit,” Mott said. “But you still want to score again and build that lead, and that is really the mentality of this team, that we really just want to keep going at you.”
After Foster scored in the first five minutes of the game, midfielder Julia Phillips came in and responded five minutes later with a goal of her own; a cross from Mary Kate Smith allowed a high shot into the top corner from seven yards out. Then, in the 56th minute, defender Grace Johnson sent a left-footed rocket into the bottom left of the goal off a corner.
“(Foster and Kizer) have been big this year,” Mott said. “But we spread it around, another one for Julia tonight, and then Johnson had another good goal. We have been spending a lot of time on corners, so to be able to get one off of one is a great feeling.”
Ole Miss travels to Fayetteville, Arkansas, on Sunday for the next conference matchup against the Razorbacks. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m.