The Ole Miss soccer team will host Murray State in the first round of the NCAA tournament at 7:30 p.m. on Friday. The team learned their fate Monday afternoon at a watch party at Rafter’s Bar and Grill.
“To get a home game is awesome,” Matthew Mott, Ole Miss head coach said. “It’s an opponent we don’t know a lot about, but we’re excited to be back at home for one more game in front of our home fans.”
“We always have great fans on Friday nights, so I think that will be an awesome atmosphere for us to play in,” Addie Forbus junior forward said. “It was something we wanted to happen because we have such an exciting atmosphere.”
The Rebels were one of six SEC teams to make the NCAA tournament, joining Florida, LSU, South Carolina, Auburn and Texas A&M.
The Murray State Racers, 16-4 on the season, won their first Ohio Valley Conference championship since 2009 with a 1-0 overtime victory over Southeast Missouri State. The Racers are currently riding an 11-game winning streak.
The Rebels were placed in a tough region of the bracket featuring sixth-ranked Clemson, eighth-ranked and 22–time national champion North Carolina and Texas A&M, who knocked the Rebels out of the SEC tournament and made the national semifinals last season.
“There’s not an easy draw out there,” Mott said. “It’s nice company to be in if we can get there. It’s a bracket that has a bunch of teams that have been very successful for a lot of years, and it’s nice to get a chance to be in that group.”
The Rebels, who are on a two-game losing streak, both of them shutouts, will be looking to get the offense and the team back on track against the Racers. Despite the losses, the Rebels have a lot of confidence in their ability to regain their previous form.
“We can’t overthink it. We have to get back to who we are as a team, and collectively we have to get back to playing Ole Miss soccer. And the rest will take care of itself,” Forbus said. “We have to focus on the little things that maybe we lost sight of against Vanderbilt.”
“I think we got mentally and physically tired toward the end of the season. We had a lot of travel,” Mott said. “Vanderbilt was tough because we connected a lot of passes but we weren’t dangerous enough. But to me, that game was a long time ago. We’re back at practice, and we’re ready for the next chapter in the biggest tournament of the year.”